Belgian Prosecutors Treating Brussels Shooting as Terrorist Attack

Three days after Jewish museum attack that killed three and seriously wounded one, the investigation goes federal.

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Image of the shooter taken from the video of a security camera at the Jewish museum in Brussels.
Image of the shooter taken from the video of a security camera at the Jewish museum in Brussels.Credit: Reuters

The fatal shooting of three people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels is being treated as a probable terrorist attack, prosecutors announced Monday, as the search for the perpetrator went into its third day.

The investigation will now be handled by the federal prosecution, rather than at the regional level.

"The analysis of the camera images shows that we are dealing with an individual acting in cold blood and who is very determined in his actions," Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecution office, told journalists in the Belgian capital.

Police have requested the public's help in identifying the attacker, who fired a Kalashnikov rifle in the museum entrance on Saturday afternoon, reportedly hitting his victims in the area of the face and throat, before fleeing on foot.

The suspect is described as being of medium build and athletic. He was wearing a dark baseball cap and carrying two bags during the attack, Belgium's federal police agency said on its website, which also shows video surveillance footage of the attack.

Some media outlets have speculated that the man might have filmed the attack, pointing to an object in the footage that appears to be attached to the strap of one bag. Authorities said they would neither confirm nor deny the speculation, the Belga news agency reported.

Three people died immediately after the shooting, while a fourth was critically injured. There have been reports that the latter has succumbed to his injuries, but authorities said he is still alive.

Two of those killed were an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv. Emanuel and Miriam Riva will be laid to rest on Tuesday. The left behind two daughters aged 15 and 16.

The third victim was a French woman who was a museum volunteer. The critically injured person is said to be a Belgian man in his 20s who worked at the museum.
The nationalities of the victims were part of the reason why federal prosecutors are taking over the case, Van Wymersch said. They were expected to update the press on their investigation later Monday.

The museum said it has no information on the possible motive, but authorities have been examining whether the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Jewish establishments across Belgium have been placed on high security alert.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned "all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," as he reacted to the attacks late Sunday.

Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil at the museum on Sunday evening. Visitors have also been leaving flowers at the entrance to the institution, which is located in a busy area of central Brussels.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders lays flowers at the Jewish museum in Brussels, May 25, 2014.Credit: AP

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