Belgium hunts for suspect in Jewish attack; 3 dead

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm •  Published: May 25, 2014
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BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium launched a nationwide hunt Sunday for a lone gunman who walked into the Jewish Museum, unpacked a Kalashnikov rifle, killed at least three people with a short burst of fire, packed up and briskly walked away.

Saturday's attack led Belgian officials to immediately raise anti-terror measures and increase the protection for Jewish sites for what was widely seen as an anti-Semitic attack. It happened on the eve of Belgium's nationwide election and as voters across the continent picked a new European Parliament.

Video of the attack showed an athletic man with cap walking determinedly into the small Jewish Museum in the swank Sablon area, clearly bent on quickly carrying out a pre-planned attack. The whole assault took a minute at most.

A government official had said a fourth victim, a Belgian man, died Sunday afternoon, but neither the interior ministry nor the prosecutor's office could officially confirm it late Sunday. The victim has been in a critical condition since he was shot.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killings. Leaders from Belgium and France, Pope Francis, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and others condemned the cold-blooded attack.

"We call on the whole population to help identify this person," deputy prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said Sunday before three separate videos and still photos of the attack were posted on the federal police web site. None have a clear view of the man's face.

She said the gunman who killed an Israeli tourist couple and a French woman "probably acted alone, was armed and well prepared."

A fuzzy photo from inside the Jewish Museum showed the man standing with his legs apart and the Kalashnikov held in front of him during the spree.

Police detained one suspect late Saturday but he was released and is now considered a witness.

Van Wymersch said "all options are still open" regarding a motive for the shooting but the government says it has the hallmarks of an anti-Semitic attack.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo swiftly condemned the attack and said the nation stands united with its Jewish community of 40,000. Hundreds gathered on Sunday to condemn the shooting and anti-Semitic violence.

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