Three dead in attack on Brussels Jewish museum
Menu JTA Search

Three dead in attack on Brussels Jewish museum

(JTA) — Three people died in a shooting inside the Jewish museum of Brussels which the city’s mayor said may have been a terrorist attack.

The shooting happened Saturday afternoon and claimed the lives of two women and one man, De Standaard daily reported. Another person was severely wounded in the shooting.

It was not immediately known whether the victims were Jewish, Charlotte Gutman, a spokesperson for the CCOJB umbrella group of Belgian French-speaking communities, told JTA. The victims’ identity was not made known immediately, according The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA.

Belgian police detained a suspect but the nature of the attack and whether it was anti-Semitic were not immediately clear, De Standaard reported.

But Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told De Standaard that, “this is probably a terrorist attack.”

The news site reported on Saturday night that police no longer regard the person they detained as a suspect and were hunting for the culprits using footage from surveillance cameras.

Police did not immediately answer queries about the suspect’s identity except to confirm that he was not a mere witness, the online edition of the Le Soir daily reported.

Sources told De Standaard that the attack occurred at 15:50 outside the museum on 21 Minimes Street in central Brussels. A single shooter exited a Audi car that a driver pulled up opposite the museum entrance.The shooter was carrying a bag and a firearm which Belgian media described as an automatic and shot four people inside. The driver drove away. The shooter fled the scene, though witnesses offered conflicting accounts as to whether on foot or by car.

The museum is located 380 yards away from the Great Synagogue of Europe.

Witnesses said they wrote down the license plate and could give a description of the shooter, the daily reported on its online edition.

Several Jewish groups condemned the attack.

“While we don’t not yet have full information regarding the background to this attack, we are acutely aware of the permanent threat to Jewish targets in Belgium and across the whole of Europe,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement.

“Incidents such as this do not occur in a vacuum, and are the direct result of a systematic culture of hate and anti-Semitism against the Jewish community and the State of Israel in so many parts of Europe, including Belgium,” the Israeli-Jewish Congress said in a statement.