A man drove a car at speed into a pedestrianised street in Antwerp on Thursday, forcing people to jump out of its path, one day after an assailant rammed a vehicle into crowds in central London, police said.
The car sped away leaving no one injured, but prosecutors said police later arrested a man suspected of being the driver, naming him as Mohamed R., a 39-year-old French national of North African origin and living in France.
Officers found knives in the vehicle and a canister containing an unknown substance that bomb disposal officers were currently checking, the federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors, who typically handle cases of Islamist violence, did not give details of any motive but said they had been called in “based on all these elements and the events in London yesterday”.
The car entered the Belgian port’s busy De Meir shopping street at around 11am local time, said police.
Patrolling soldiers tried to stop it but it went through a red light and drove off, said a police spokesman. The vehicle later came to a halt near Antwerp’s waterfront, it added without going into further details.
“I want to thank the fast response team which arrested the man in a professional manner and may have prevented much worse,” Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever said.
The London attacks came exactly one year after twin bombings at Brussels’ airport and its metro killed 32 people. More police were visible on the streets of Antwerp on Thursday afternoon.
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