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Belgium | Car drives into carnival crowd, at least six dead

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(Brussels) A car drove into a crowd gathering to take part in a carnival early Sunday in southern Belgium, killing at least six people and injuring 26 others, 10 of them seriously, authorities said. moment the terrorist trail.

The accident occurred around 5 a.m. (0 a.m. EDT) in Strépy-Bracquegnies, a village dependent on the city of La Louvière not far from the French border. “A car traveling at high speed drove into the crowd which had gathered to attend (the carnival),” Jacques Gobert, mayor of La Louvière, told the Belga press agency.

“In the current state of the investigation, the terrorist track is not privileged”, declared Damien Verheyen, deputy public prosecutor of Mons, during a press conference in La Louvière.

According to Mr. Verheyen, “a vehicle drove into a collection group” of people dressed as Gilles for the carnival and “we deplore six deaths, 26 injured at various stages”, including “10 people whose days are currently in danger “.


PHOTO KENZO TRIBOUILLARD, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

“The car was occupied by two people who were arrested,” he added, adding that they were from La Louvière and were born in 1988 and 1990. The two suspects are not known to the authorities for acts terrorism, he said.

“There were between 150 and 200 people” during the collection, said the mayor during the press conference. The vehicle arrived at high speed and “pulverized a significant number of people”.

“Horrible news from Strépy-Bracquegnies,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter. “A community that was gathering to celebrate was struck in the heart.”

“My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. All my support also goes to the emergency services for their help and assistance provided, ”added Mr. De Croo who was to go there during the day, accompanied by King Philippe according to the office of the Prime Minister.

In Belgium, towns and villages organize many street parades for Carnival during Lent, the best known in Binche and Aalst.

Like that of Binche, the carnival of Strépy-Bracquegnies welcomes costumed participants, the “Gilles”, summoned early to participate in the parade.

“I was walking next to it,” said a witness, Théo, on Belgian public television RTBF. “I turned around and saw a car driving into the troop”.

“Lots of people on the ground”

“She arrived very quickly and did not brake. She continued and she boarded a Gille 100 meters further, ”continued the young man. “There were a lot of people on the ground.”


PHOTO KENZO TRIBOUILLARD, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

“A drama that particularly affects us here”, tweeted Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice, a city whose carnival is one of the three main in the world with those of Rio de Janeiro and Venice. He recalled that the Gilles de La Louvière had recently been the guests of honor.

The mayor of La Louvière said he asked the organizers to cancel the other carnival events, the first organized after two years of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In neighboring Germany, on February 24, 2020 in Volkmarsen, a man purposely drove his vehicle into the crowd during a carnival parade, injuring some 90 people, including children. He was sentenced in December to life imprisonment.

Germany was hit by the deadliest jihadist attack on its soil on December 19, 2016, when a ram truck killed 12 people and injured dozens at a Christmas market in Berlin. The country has seen several similar attacks since, most often perpetrated by unbalanced people.

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