March 24, 2017 / 11:36 AM / 8 months ago

Driver who sped through Antwerp shoppers faces terrorism charges

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A man who sped a car down a pedestrian shopping street in Antwerp has been charged with attempted terrorist murder, Belgium’s federal prosecutors said on Friday.

Police officers stand next to a car which had entered the main pedestrianised shopping street in the city at high speed, in Antwerp, Belgium, 23 March 2017. @franklyanouk/Twitter Handout via REUTERS

No one was injured in the incident, but authorities said pedestrians had to jump out of the way and police found knives in the vehicle of 39-year-old Mohamed R., a French resident of North African origin.

He has also been charged with illegal possession of weapons.

A French source close to the investigation said they believed there was no terrorist motive and that the suspect had not been trying to hit anyone. The source said on Thursday that the suspect was probably drunk and trying to escape a police check.

Belgian media said police found the man asleep in his car after chasing him through town and he was too intoxicated to be heard about the incident.

“It appears he still wasn’t questioned this morning, given his state,” the French source said.

Belgium’s federal prosecutors did not give any further details about the case.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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