Cars, bins burned, but calm returning to Belgian cities
10 November 200512.20am
BRUSSELS — Several arson attacks were reported in Brussels and Antwerp again on Wednesday night, but the situation appeared less tense than what it has been in recent days.
The fire brigade was called out to extinguish one car fire in the Magazijnstraat in Brussels, while fire fighters in Schaarbeek were also dispatched after the right-side window of a Renault Scenic was smashed in an attempted arson attack in Schaarbeek.
Three suspects allegedly involved in the two incidents were arrested in Brussels, broadcaster VTM reported.
In Antwerp, a Toyota Celica was torched in the Willem Elsschotstraat on the Linkeroever at about 7.30pm, newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ reported.
Witnesses saw five people running away from the blaze. They were described as four young men of North African origin and a Belgian youth.
“We have a serious description of the culprits and they are currently being tracked down,” Antwerp public prosecution spokesman Guido Vermeiren said.
Meanwhile, rubbish bins in the Brupark in Brussels and in Sint-Joost-ten-Node were also set ablaze.
Suspected deliberate fires were reported in paper containers in two locations in Brugge. Fire brigade authorities brought the blazes under control and police have launched inquiries.
The container bin fires in Brugge both started at about 8.30pm. The fires were started in the Magdalenazaal in Sint-Andries and along the Ten Boomgaarde in Sint-Michiels.
Wednesday night’s incidents come after a series of worrying arson attacks were reported in various Belgian cities every night since Sunday this week.
The unrest and occasional clashes between police and immigrant youths sparked concern that the violence witnessed in France in the past two weeks was spreading to Belgium.
Various arrests have been made, with police in Genk revealing on Wednesday night that they had arrested six suspects aged between 22 and 18.
Accused of arson attacks on Monday and Tuesday nights, the youths said they were inspired by the rioting in France, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported.
“We hoped that [the initial incidents Sunday night] were isolated cases, but apparently it’s continuing,” police spokesman Albert Roossens had said earlier this week.
The federal government’s crisis centre was quick to point out though that the arson attacks were “isolated” incidents and that there were no large gatherings of youths.
Despite this, various city districts were on edge and extra police were stationed around the Brussels South train station where several arson attacks were reported.
However, by midnight on Wednesday, the fourth night in succession of unrest in Belgium was shaping up as being the quietest so far.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news