A French -Tunisian Muslim terrorist has been arrested after trying to drive a car loaded with liquid gas, assault rifles and knives into a crowd of shoppers in Antwerp in an attempted terror attack.
Belgian police, who confirmed the bomb squad had been sent to the area, said the car was being driven at high speed and that pedestrians had to jump out of the way to avoid being injured.
Authorities found knives, a shotgun and a gas can with an unknown liquid in the car prompting officers who usually deal with terrorist attacks to take over the case.
Belgian police arrested a Muslim named as Mohamed R, 39, on Thursday after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp at around 11am.
The Muslim terrorist, said to be of North African descent, was wearing camouflage when he was arrested.
Belgian security forces found a rifle as well as bladed weapons in the car driven by the Muslim terrorist who tried to ram a crowd in the main pedestrianised street in the port city, described by the French President Francois Hollande as an ‘attempted terrorist attack’.
The federal prosecutor’s office also said bomb disposal units were sent to the scene to examine the vehicle.
‘Different arms were found in the boot – bladed weapons, a riot gun (rifle) and a container of liquid that is still unidentified,’ the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
‘The suspect is Mohamed R, born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France,’ the statement said.
The driver sped off after Belgian soldiers, who have been deployed around the country to assist the counter-terrorism fight, tried to stop the car.
‘A short while later, a rapid intervention force from Antwerp police was able to stop the car,’ the statement said.
Shoppers had to dive out of the way of the speeding car to avoid serious injury.
Belgian soldiers then forced the driver to stop, but he fled by running a red light as he made his way towards the Scheldt river.
Less than a mile later, he was stopped by police officers and arrested.
The gas liquid was found in a canister, and as a result the case was handed over to the federal prosecutor’s office, which usually deals with terrorism cases in Belgium.
The office said: ‘Because of these elements, and the events in London yesterday, the case is being taken on by the federal prosecutor’s office.’
Prime Minister Charles Michel said ‘we remain vigilant. Our security services have done excellent work.’