Three people were killed in a shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum on Saturday. The three died at the scene; another victim was in critical condition in the hospital.
A Jewish community figure, Joel Rubinfeld, told AFP it clearly “is a terrorist act” as a man had been seen driving up and entering the museum before opening fire inside and running off.
Rubinfeld, who heads the country’s league against anti-Semitism, said the act was the result of “a climate of hate.”
The country’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, tweeted Saturday that he was “shocked by the murders committed at the Jewish museum.”
“I am thinking of the victims I saw there and their families,” he said.
The La Libre newspaper said on its website that an Audi had driven up and parked outside the museum, and that both a passenger and the driver had gotten out.
It said the driver placed two bags on the ground and then opened fire on bystanders before driving off.
“A person wearing a backpack was seen opening fire before fleeing,” Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF) reported [in French].
Twelve people were being treated for shock, according to local sources.
Police and emergency services were at the site, which was blocked off in the Belgian capital.
A bystander, Alain Sobotic, told AFP he had seen the foreign minister at the scene.
No information was immediately available from police on the circumstances of the shoot-out but Sobotic said he had seen two bodies just inside the doors of the museum, a young woman and a man.
The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was not answering calls, is located in the heart of the Sablon district which is home to the city’s top antique dealers.
Interior Minister Joelle Milquet too was in the area, a popular weekend haunt for shoppers and holidayers.
The head of Belgium’s Jewish Consistory told La Libre that “is is probably a terrorist act. For us it is an extremely serious act.”
He said the museum had received no recent threats and that its staff “are in shock”.
The police had a “serious tip”, he added, amid reports that a bystander had given the police the car’s registration number.