Six people died and 12 others were left severely injured after a car plowed into a crowd of people in southern Belgium.
The tragic incident happened at around 4 am on Sunday in the village of Strepy-Bracquegnies as people prepare for a carnival.
“At this stage of the investigation, we know that a vehicle slammed into a group (of carnival-goers) and that there are six dead and 26 injured, including 10 people whose life is in danger,” prosecutor Damien Verheyen said.
Verheyen said that the main suspects, who came from the town of La Louviere near the French border, have been arrested and that terrorism wasn’t considered a motive at this stage.
Belgian villages and towns host street carnivals around the Lent season, with the Aalst and Binch parades the best known worldwide.
Mayor Jacques Gobert said between 150 and 200 people were getting ready for the annual folklore parade when the car suddenly appeared.
Speaking to RTBF radio, Gobert said: “A car drove from the back at high speed. We have a few dozen injured and unfortunately several people who are killed.
“The driver was intercepted as he tried to get away. The cause of the incident or whether the crash was intentional has not yet been determined.”
A spokesperson for the local emergency services also said: “An early morning carnival opening ceremony was taking place, when the car approached a crowd in what looked like a deliberate attack.
“The driver tried to get away, but was arrested by the police. He is currently in custody.”
Belgian TV presenter Fabrice Collingnon told AFP that the parade was joyfully underway when in a “snap of the fingers we went from fun and folklore to absolute horror.”
Theo, one of the witnesses, told RTBF News: “I was walking by. I turned around and saw a car running into the troop. It came very fast and didn’t break. It continued and it took a girl 100 meters further.”
Belgian Interior Minster Annelies Verlinden visited the scene and said: “Deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the incident this morning.
“What should have been a great party turned into a tragedy. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
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