Paris (Oct. 21)
French and Belgian police are cooperating in the investigation of yesterday’s synagogue bombing in Antwerp which killed two persons and injured more than 100 others because of strange similarities between that outrage and the Rue Copernic synagogue bombing in Paris last October which took four lives. In both cases, the bombs consisted of containers of powerful charges of TNT and on both occasions, vehicles bought by men claiming Cypriot nationality were used.
Belgian police said this morning that the car in which the Antwerp bomb was hidden was bought a few days ago by a man who said his name was Nicolas Brazzi, a Cypriot national. French and Belgian police officers are trying to determine whether the same men were involved in both attacks. The police have made composite photographs according to the descriptions supplied by eye witnesses.
One year after the Rue Copernic explosion French police still have no clues to the real identities of the terrorists or where they originally came from.
A man claiming to represent “Black September” telephoned news agencies in Brussels today claiming responsibility on behalf of that extremist Palestinian organization. The caller said that two more cars packed with explosives ware about to detonate in Antwerp and concluded his call with the Palestine Liberation Organization slogan “Palestine shall win.”
Belgian investigators say, however, that the call came some 24 hours after the explosion and that the caller supplied no information which had not been made public before. “It could be anyone,” a police investigator told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
MANY MORE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED
Police say that the blast might have caused twice as many victims had it gone off half an hour later when the synagogue across the street would have been filled. At 9:30 am. local time, police sources say, the street was half deserted and the synagogue empty. The large number of victims was due to the force of the blast which killed or wounded passersby several hundred yards away.
Police said the explosion was one of the most powerful ever in recent Belgian history. A black cloud hung over the area and buildings were damaged in a radius of several hundred yards. Fire fighers had to battle their way through fire and shattered glass to evacuate the wounded. Fire brigades from several cities near Antwerp were called to help fight the flames and dozens of ambulances evacuated the wounded.
Most of the 15,000 Jews in Antwerp feel personally and deeply concerned by the attack. All those contacted by the JTA and other news agencies blamed the police for neglecting to take all necessary precautions and governments which have failed to strongly condemn Palestinian organizations and their terrorist acts. On July 27, 1980 two Arabs threw a hand grenade at a group of Jewish youngsters waiting to board a bus for a day’s outing. One 15-year-old boy was killed.
Antwerp Jews and Brussels community leaders say they were still under the effect of last year’s shock when this week’s attack took place. The local community said it will step up its own protection methods and hire security guards to guard local Jewish institutions and offices.