belgium parade

At least six people were killed and 12 people seriously injured when a car ploughed into a crowd at a carnival in Belgium
Several people were killed when a car crashed into a crowd gathering for a carnival in a small town in southern Belgium, in what emergency services have called a 'deliberate attack'.

At least six people died when the car hit a a group of about 150 people gathered at dawn on Sunday for celebrations in Strepy-Bracquegnies, which is 30 miles south of Brussels, according to a spokesman for the local emergency services.

'An early morning carnival opening ceremony was taking place, when the car approached a crowd in what looked like a deliberate attack', the spokesman added.

'The driver tried to get away, but was arrested by the police. He is currently in custody.'

Mayor Jacques Gobert told RTBF radio: 'A car drove from the back at high speed. We have a few dozen injured and unfortunately several people who are killed.

'The driver was intercepted as he tried to get away. The cause of the incident or whether the crash was intentional has not yet been determined.'

Belgian media said the crash may have been caused by a car being chased by police, but state broadcaster RTBF said a news conference was set for later this morning.

Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said an examining magistrate has opened a criminal enquiry, and no motivation was being ruled out.
belgium parade

Mayor Jacques Gobert told RTBF radio: 'A car drove from the back at high speed. We have a few dozen injured and unfortunately several people who are killed'

Mr Gobert said around 150 people were gathered to get ready for the annual folklore parade which had been cancelled for the past two years due to coronavirus, and involved costumes and drums, when the vehicle appeared.

The injured have been rushed to La Louviere hospital, and many have been placed in intensive care.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo deplored the 'horrible news' in which 'a community gathering to celebrate has been hit in the heart', he wrote on Twitter.

De Croo was to visit the scene later on Sunday accompanied by Belgium's King Philippe, the prime minister's office said.

'Deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the incident this morning', said Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

'What should have been a great party turned into a tragedy. We are monitoring the situation closely.'

'We heard an immense noise...and the car literally went into the group of people,' said Bel RTL reporter Fabrice Collignon, who witnessed the event.

A witness, who gave his name as Theo, told RTBF News: 'I was walking by. I turned around and saw a car running into the troop. It came very fast and didn't brake. It continued and it took a girl 100 metres further.'

Video taken from the scene before the incident appeared to show locals setting up the carnival during the early hours of Sunday morning.
RTBF quoted local authorities as saying 15 also suffered light injuries in the incident.

'This Sunday morning, a vehicle collided with... a group of around 100 people which had just left the sports hall to go back up to the centre of the village,' the mayor's office said in a statement.

The public prosecutor's office did not wish to communicate on the case for the time being, but will speak later in the day, it said.

Local councillor Xavier Papier said: 'What was supposed to be the return of the joy of partying together turns into a horrible tragedy.

'This morning, we are all linked to Strépy-Bracquegnies, to the bereaved families and to the wounded by this horrific act.'

Olivier Destrebecq, another local councillor, said: 'horror and dread has this morning surrounded the Strépy-Bracquegnies carnival.

'Appearing out of nowhere, a car speeded into the crowd that had gathered. A heartfelt thought for these people and their families.'

And MP Sophie Pécrials said: 'I have no words! It was meant to be a Sunday of celebration, reunions, and smiles. Now it's a black Sunday for everyone in the region.'

Authorities are to hold a press conference at 11am in La Louviere.