Car driver tries to crash gate of Belgian barracks

Posted at 6:10 AM, Oct 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-26 07:53:27-04

BRUSSELS (AP) — Police detained a suspect Monday after an attacker tried to crash a car through the gates of an army barracks in southern Belgium and fled in the vehicle after shots were fired, the prosecutor's office said.

The incident occurred near the French-speaking town of Namur, south of Brussels. The suburb of Flawinne is the site of one of Belgium's major military barracks, home to the 2nd Commando Battalion.

Defense Cabinet chief Lt. Gen. Claude Van De Voorde said that "one car tried to get into the barracks. There was one person in the car" who then fled.

Police detained a suspect three hours after the attack following a manhunt which also involved helicopters surveying the scene, said prosecutor's spokesman Vincent Macq.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries at the barracks, said defense spokesman Tony Langone. A busted-up Ford was found close by the barracks which police carefully investigated.

Van De Voorde could not confirm media reports that there were explosives in the car. "People start making up things quickly," he said.

Since a lone gunman killed four people in the May 2014 attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels, Belgium has been on high alert for further extremist attacks.

In January, police killed two men and arrested a third in a counter-terrorism raid in the eastern city of Verviers targeting a group suspected of plotting a major attack.

Belgium has been one of the largest recruiting bases per capita for foreign fighters traveling to join the Islamic State extremist organization, and authorities have openly expressed alarm about what the recruits might do if they return.

A preliminary report this month from a U.N. Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries estimated 500 people have been recruited from Belgium to fight in Iraq and Syria.