26th Oct 2016

Belgian and EU politicians condemn Brussels shooting

Belgian and EU politicians have reacted with shock and anger to the news that three people were shot dead and one seriously injured in a shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels.

The shooting happened just before 4pm local time in the EU capital both in and in front of the museum which lies off the popular Grand Sablon at the heart of the city.

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Le Soir newspaper reports that a man driving an Audi stopped in front of the museum and got out of the car carrying a bag.

Two women and one man were killed. A fourth person, in a critical state, has been brought to a nearby hospital.

The man escaped in the car but Belgian newspapers reported early Saturday evening that a person had subsequently been arrested.

Philippe Markiewicz, president of the Israeli community in Brussels, said he was shocked by the attack.

He said the fact that the act took place in the Jewish museum meant it could be "an act against the Jewish community" but it is up to the authorities to draw conclusions.

Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Antisemitism, said it was a "terrorist act".

Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said he was "shocked" by the shooting. Foreign minister Didier Reynders, who happened to be nearby when the incident took place, said the victims and their families were in his thoughts.

There was also an outpouring from EU politicians. EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, tweeting in Dutch and French, said he was "saddened" by the attack.

Several other EU commissioners also took to twitter to condemn the shooting.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said it was a "despicable attack" and "an affront against the values our modern Europe represents".

Le Soir noted that Jewish communities have regularly complained about anti-semitic sentiment in Belgium.

Just two weeks ago the authorities banned a planned congress of anti-zionists in Brussels, organised by a far-right MP.

Saturday's attack took place on the eve of a 'Super Sunday' of elections in the country which will see local, national and European elections.

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