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Belgium in Brief: A Three-Day Manhunt

Credit: Pexels/Belga/The Brussels Times

Since Tuesday, an ongoing manhunt for Corporal Jürgen Conings (46) in the Limburg province has been dominating the headlines in Belgium.

Conings, who was placed under covert surveillance by military intelligence for his extreme rightwing views and was also included on a list of the terrorist risk analysis unit as a ‘potentially violent extremist,‘ is hiding from police after taking weapons from a military base and making threats against virologist Marc Van Ranst.

The search saw the Hoge Kempen National Park closed, and unprecedented police and military presence in the area where the man is thought to be hiding out.

According to the federal public prosecutor, heavy weaponry – including four anti-tank rocket launchers – and ammunition was found in his car, which was booby-trapped using a grenade and a set of wires.

However, Conings is still believed to be armed, presumably with an FN P90 submachine gun, a smaller pistol and a bulletproof vest, report local media.

As a precaution, a number of mosques in the Limburg province have decided to remain closed today in the meantime, while the search for Conings continues.

Anyone with more information about Conings or his whereabouts is asked to contact the police.

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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Limburg mosques close their doors for fear of missing gunman

A number of mosques in the province of Limburg have decided to remain closed today as a precaution while the heavily armed military man Jürgen Conings remains at large. Read more.

2. Manhunt for armed soldier: large nature park closed, four anti-tank weapons found

In the ongoing search for Jürgen Conings (46), an armed soldier hiding from police after taking weapons from a military base and making threats against virologist Marc Van Ranst, the Hoge Kempen National Park in Limburg has been closed.

According to the federal public prosecutor, heavy weaponry including four anti-tank rocket launchers and ammunition, was found in his car on Tuesday, but Conings is still believed to be armed. Read more.

3. EU to ease restrictions for vaccinated travellers from non-EU countries

In the run-up to the summer season, the ambassadors of the 27 Member States supported a proposal by the Commission to relax entry restrictions for travellers from non-EU countries who are fully vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine authorised in the EU, a spokesperson said. Read more.

4. Two drops of blood, an ocean of possibilities: how the Biobank of ZOO Antwerp is changing animal research across Europe

Photo by Esmée Beurze / The Brussels Times

The Antwerp ZOO is filled with animals — thousands, in fact — but many of those creatures, if not most of them, aren’t kept in the outdoor enclosures or the reptile house or the aviaries.

They’re stored in tiny test tubes, stowed away in a freezer, making up what may be Europe’s most important collection of biological samples to be used for zoological research. Read more.

5. Over 30% of young people in Flanders do not want to be vaccinated

The younger someone in Flanders is, the less willing they are to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, research by the universities of Antwerp (UAntwerpen) and Brussels (VUB) showed. Read More.

6. Brussels aims to vaccinate homeless people in latest vaccination campaign

Brussels starts its coronavirus vaccination campaign to target around 5,000 homeless people today, the Joint Community Commission (Cocom) announced. Read More.

7. Russian deep-discount supermarket heads for Belgium

The shopping streets of Belgium could soon be home to a new arrival: the Russian-owned deep-discount supermarket chain Mere. Read More.

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