French Man in Antwerp, Belgium, Tries to Drive Into Crowd

A forensics expert working next to the car that tried to drive over pedestrians on Antwerp’s main shopping street. (Marc De Roeck/Reuters)

A French resident tried to drive over pedestrians on a crowded shopping street in the Belgian port city of Antwerp on Thursday, and a rifle and several knives were found in the vehicle, prosecutors said.

With tensions already high in Europe after a similar attack involving a vehicle on Wednesday near Parliament in London, Belgian prosecutors identified the suspect only as Mohamed R., in keeping with traditional practice — a 39-year-old French resident of North African ancestry.

No injuries were reported, but a bomb disposal unit was sweeping the car for explosives and inspecting an unidentified canister of liquid that was also found in the car.

“We remain vigilant,” said the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, on Twitter. “Our security services did an outstanding job in Antwerp.”

Bart De Wever, the mayor of Antwerp, increased the state of alert and added police security in busy neighborhoods, including shopping areas, transportation hubs, monuments and museums. The ministry of defense was sending additional troops to patrol.

It was one day after Belgium observed the first anniversary of the deadliest attack on its soil, when suicide bombers in Brussels assaulted the main airport and a subway station, killing 32 people.

Antwerp is the second most important hub for radicalization in Belgium, and only Brussels has sent more people from the country to fight for Islamists in Syria.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Milan Schreuer