Belgium: Car rammed into carnival crowd, killing 6 people
People walk home after a car crash at a carnival in Strepy-Bracquegnies, Belgium, March 20. (Photo: AP)
In addition, 10 people suffered life-threatening injuries and many others suffered minor injuries.
Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said: “What should have been a great party turned into a tragedy“.
The Belgian prosecutor’s office, which gives the death toll, said two locals in their 30s were arrested at the scene in Strépy-Bracquegnies, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Brussels. According to prosecutors, in the early stages of the investigation, there are no elements to suspect a terrorist motive.
According to a long tradition, revelers at Carnival gathered at dawn, planning to pick up others at their homes along the way, finally hosting this popular festival after it went unchallenged for the past two years due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Festival participants wear colorful costumes with bells attached to the beat of the drums.
At about 5 a.m. on March 20 (local time), more than 150 people of all ages gathered and stood in a dense crowd along a long road. Suddenly, “a car came from behind at high speed. And we had dozens of injuries and unfortunately some people were killed,” said Mayor Jacques Gobert.
Police guard the area after a car crashed into a crowd at a carnival in Strepy-Bracquegnies. (Photo: AP)
The driver of the car car crashes into crowd and another person in the car was arrested when their car stopped a few hundred meters away from the scene of the incident.
Since Belgium suffered the twin terror attacks in Brussels and Zaventem that killed 32 civilians six years ago, incidents of this kind are often linked to terrorist motives.
However, prosecutor Damien Verheyen said: “There are no factors in the investigation at this time that allow me to consider that either subject’s motives may be terrorism related.“.
The Belgian Prosecutor’s Office also denied media speculation that the crash could have been caused by a car being chased by police.
King Philippe and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo are expected to visit Strépy-Bracquegnies on March 20 following the incident to offer condolences and support to the families of the dead and those injured.
Masquerade festivals are very popular in this area. The Carnival celebrations in nearby Binche have even been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
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