Man who drove at shoppers in Belgium faces terrorism charges

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A man who drove at a crowd in the Belgian city of Antwerp has been charged with terrorism offenses, federal prosecutors say, even though it remains unclear what motivated the man, who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The suspect, who has only been identified as Mohamed R., was formally placed under arrest on Friday after being charged with attempted murder in a terroristic context, attempting to injure in a terroristic context, and violating weapons legislation.

“At this moment, in the interest of the investigation, no further information can be released,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a brief statement. It did not clarify what prompted the terrorism charges.

The incident happened on Thursday morning when the man, a 39-year-old French national and resident who is originally from Tunisia, drove his car at a high rate of speed through Meir, which is the main shopping street in Antwerp.

Shoppers were forced to dive out of the way as the car made its way through the busy street but no one was injured. Soldiers located the vehicle a short time later and found the driver sleeping behind the wheel, under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Knives and a non-lethal gun were found inside the car.

Despite Friday’s charges, much remains unclear about the exact circumstances of the incident and whether the man had intended to carry out a terrorist attack. The incident came just a day after a man drove a car into pedestrians on a bridge in London before stabbing a police officer. Four people were killed.

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