Man arrested trying to drive into crowd in Antwerp, weapons found in car
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Man arrested trying to drive into crowd in Antwerp, weapons found in car

Driver identified as French national; bomb disposal units dispatched to scene

Police officers and and Sedee-Dovo, the mine clearance service of Belgian defense, patrol  in Antwerp where Belgian police arrested a man on March 23, 2017 after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp, a police chief said. (AFP/Belga/VIRGINIE LEFOUR)
Police officers and and Sedee-Dovo, the mine clearance service of Belgian defense, patrol in Antwerp where Belgian police arrested a man on March 23, 2017 after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp, a police chief said. (AFP/Belga/VIRGINIE LEFOUR)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Belgian police arrested a French national who tried to drive into a crowd at high speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp Thursday.

Belgian security forces found a rifle as well as bladed weapons in the car, prosecutors said.

The driver sped off after Belgian soldiers, who have been deployed around the country to assist the counter-terrorism fight, tried to stop the car.

“A short while later, a rapid intervention force from Antwerp police was able to stop the car,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if the car contained any explosives.

The federal prosecutor’s office also said bomb disposal units were on the scene to examine the vehicle.

“Different arms were found in the boot — bladed weapons, a riot gun (rifle) and a container of liquid that is still unidentified,” the statement said.

“The suspect is Mohamed R., born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France,” the statement said.

The incident came a day after an attack on the British parliament killed three people, as well as after the first anniversary of the Brussels attacks in which 32 people died.

“A vehicle with French plates has tried to drive at high speed into the Meir (shopping street). A man in camouflage was taken away,” a police official told a news conference.

“The pedestrians had to jump aside,” he said.

“My gratitude on behalf of all Antwerp to the soldiers who have intervened, the police services and the special intervention force,” Antwerp Mayor Bart de Wever tweeted.

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