Belgium says no signs of terrorist motive behind barracks attack

Belgian prosecutors say there are no indications a man who sought to force his car into a military barracks was driven by a terrorist motive.

NAMUR, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 26, 2015) (REUTERS) – A man wearing a balaclava tried to force his car through the gates of a military base in Belgium on Monday (October 26), but prosecutors said there were no signs of a terrorist motive.

Namur Prosecutor Vincent Macq said they did not rule out that he was mentally unstable.

“For the moment, there are no elements which would allow us to say we are facing a terrorist examination, as per the penal code. In other words, the theory of an isolated incident or one of a psychologically unstable person cannot be ruled out. So all the theories remain open, but we cannot say in principle that the terrorist examination as per the penal code is a theory that should be given particular weight,” he told a news briefing at Namur law courts.

The man tried to enter the barracks in Flawinne, near the city of Namur, and fled when soldiers opened fire on his car, prosecutors said. No one was hurt.

“He forced through the entrance with his car. If you saw the place, he was a few metres away from the fence when there was the security check, so he forced entry. He entered in the barracks with his car. At that moment, guards opened fire, 12 shots were fired, 12 were fired in his direction,” Macq said.

The suspect, identified only as a man born in 1983, was later detained and found to be unarmed. There were no explosives to be found in the car.

“The only possible weapon he possessed was his car, which is not nothing, but what was he counting on using it for? Was he hoping to use it as a weapon or for something else? I have no information on this at this stage,” Macq told reporters.

Belgium foiled what authorities say was a plot to attack police in January, killing two men in one of several raids against an Islamist group that officials said had been about to launch large-scale attacks.

Since then, soldiers have been guarding several sites across the country, such as the European Commission headquarters, embassies and Jewish schools in the capital Brussels.