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Europe

French citizen among victims of Jewish Museum attack

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-25

A French citizen was among the fatalities as well as an Israeli couple in Saturday’s attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, authorities announced Sunday. The shooting has revived fears of a fresh wave of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Sunday, deputy prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said security officials were looking for a lone suspect in the lethal shooting. The suspect, she added, was “armed and well prepared.''

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

The Israeli couple were tourists visiting the city from from Tel Aviv. A fourth person was wounded and was in a critical condition, according to Belgian authorities.

A day after the attack, there was no claim for the deadly shooting incident and Van Wymersch said she could not confirm if it was a terrorist or anti-Semitic attack. “All leads remain open,” she added.

Hollande declares attack ‘anti-Semitic’

However, French President François Hollande said he had no doubt about the “anti-Semitic character” of the attack in Brussels.

Hollande was speaking to reporters in the southern French city of Tulle, where he was casting his ballot in Sunday’s European Parliament elections.

Hollande’s view appeared to be echoed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who issued a statement condemning the attack and also pledging to work with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to, “confront such bigotry across Europe.”

The Belgian prime minister himself immediately expressed support for the Jewish community. “All Belgians are united,” he said.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who was in the vicinity of the attack on Saturday, said the scene “was terrible and left me shocked” as he saw two of the three dead lying at the entry of the museum, located in the touristy Sablon neighborhood.

Unable to confirm motive

Interior Ministry spokesperson Ingrid Van Daele said that that investigators were still on the scene gathering details, and that it was too soon to say whether it was an anti-Semitic attack.

However, Reynders said that “you cannot help to think that when we see a Jewish museum, you think of an anti-Semitic act. But the investigation will have to show the causes.”

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said police had a good lead for a suspect, but refused to elaborate due to the sensitivity of the case.

The attack, which came on the eve of national and European Parliament elections, led officials to raise anti-terror measures.

"We decided to apply to a maximum level of protection to Jewish sites,'' Home Affairs Minister Joëlle Milquet said.

"He came, he shot and he left,” Milquet added to FRANCE 24 Brussels correspondent Méabh McMahon

The museum is located in the heart of the Sablon district, which is home to the city's top antique dealers.

(FRANCE24 with REUTERS, AP, AFP)

Date created : 2014-05-25

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