A car drove at high speed into a group of Belgian carnival performers who were preparing a parade early on Sunday, killing six people and seriously injuring 10 others, authorities have said, adding that the incident did not appear to be a militant attack.
“At this stage, there are no elements to suggest that the attack had a terrorist motive,” the prosecutor Damien Verheyen told a news conference. Police denied media reports that the car was involved in a high-speed chase.
The incident occurred in the southern Belgium village of Strépy-Bracquegnies at about 4am GMT.
Jacques Gobert, the mayor of the neighbouring town of La Louvière, said between 150 and 200 people were gathered in preparation for the annual folklore parade, involving costumes and drums, when the vehicle appeared.
“A speeding car drove into the crowd … The driver then continued on his way,” said Gobert.
The two people in the car, which was later intercepted, were detained. Police said they were local people in their 30s and were not previously known to them.
Belgium has sought to root out people suspected of militant links over the past seven years. A Brussels-based Islamic State cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and on Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.
Ramming vehicles into crowds has become more common as a weapon used by militants in Europe and white supremacists in the US because such attacks are inexpensive, easy to organise and hard for authorities to prevent, experts say.