Two people were killed and more than 100 injured when a car bomb exploded outside a small Sephardic synagogue here today shortly before Shemini Atzeret services were to begin. The synagogue, located in the heavily Jewish populated diamond district in the heart of the city was severely damaged and windows within a radius of several hundred yards were shattered.
The dead were not immediately identified. One victim was described as a 35-year-old woman who was killed instantly and the other was a man who died in a hospital.
Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens left Brussels for Antwerp shortly after the bombing. He issued a statement denouncing the attack and assured the Jewish population of Belgium that security measures would be tightened to protect them. “Our country must not be dragged into an escalating cycle of violence and intolerance,” he said.
The Belgian news agency, Belga, reported an anonymous telephone call from a previously unknown group called “Direct Action Group” which claimed responsibility for the outrage but denied that it was motivated by racism. Police dismissed the call.
PALESTINIAN TERRORISM DENOUNCED
The Israel Embassy in Brussels condemned the bombing which it blamed on “blind Palestinian terrorism” that “strikes at Jews wherever they are, in Europe or Israel.” But the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Brussels also condemned “this attack on innocent victims.”
The synagogue bombing here was the latest such attack on Jewish houses of worship in various European countries. Last August a bomb blast at Vienna’s main synagogue killed two persons and injured 18. In October, 1980, four persons were killed and 32 were injured by a bomb explosion outside the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris. The perpetrators of both bombings have not been apprehended.
Antwerp was the scene of another terrorist outrage directed against Jews in July, 1980 when terrorists hurled hand grenades at a bus being boarded by children bound for a Jewish summer camp. One teen-aged youth was killed. Two years ago bombs exploded at Brussels airport where passengers were waiting to board an El Al flight to Israel. Two Palestinians were arrested in that attack.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.