An 18 year-old Belgian, described by local authorities as a skinhead with far-right sympathies, has gone on a shooting rampage in Antwerp, killing two people and injuring another. The victims were a woman of African origins and a two-year old white girl in her care. Witnesses say the woman died while attempting to shield the child. The killer also shot a Turkish woman, but her life is not in danger.
The Belgian press has reacted with shock, as has the Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt: “We must prevent our society from being sucked into a spiral of violence and hate. Belgium has always been a tolerant society, and it must stay that way”, he declared on television. Antwerp is Belgium’s second-largest city, and a stronghold of the far-right. Antwerp’s Mayor Patrick Janssens also reacted with horror: “I think like everyone here in Antwerp, and nationally…I am really shocked that in the middle of the day in the centre of town a young can go into a shop, buy a rifle, and then start shooting people”. The man detained at the scene is in hospital under guard after being shot by police after refusing to surrender. Last week three skinheads were arrested in Bruges after an African man was beaten so badly he is still in hospital in a coma.