Antwerp hit by two shootings, three explosions in four days
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    Antwerp hit by two shootings, three explosions in four days

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    A machine gun shooting in Antwerp marks the fifth violent incident in the city in four days, and comes after a grenade exploded on the doorstep of a building next door.

    Police suspect the series of attacks may be related to a conflict between rival drug gangs. The shooting took place around 3:00 AM in De Grypeerstraat in Deurne, in the eastern part of the city of Antwerp. The house targeted is owned by family members of Othman El B.

    El B. is a known and convicted drug lord who has been connected to cocaine smuggling activities in Antwerp in the past. Multiple male members of the El B. family have been investigated by police in relation to drug offences. HLN reports that the El B. family currently no longer lives at the address, but resides elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

    Only the front door has been slightly damaged following the incident. Police are investigating whether the attack is connected to the events of the past days.

    Early Monday morning, around 3:00 AM, a grenade exploded on the doorstep of a former pharmacy in De Grypeerstraat. The building neighboured the former El B. family home. No one was hurt.

    On the night of Saturday to Sunday, one shooting and two explosions were reported in the eastern part of Antwerp. Shots were fired at a residence in the Beukenstraat in Borgerhout. The incident was reported to police Sunday afternoon.

    Around 3:00 AM that night, police responded to an explosion in the nearby district of Deurne. Police say this attack did not involve a grenade, unlike the incident on Monday night and a second explosion Saturday night. Again, no one was hurt, and the only damage befell to a front door.

    The second explosion came while police were on the scene in Deurne and targeted a car in the Borgerhout district. The car was parked in the Godsstraat, which is connected to the Beukenstraat.

    The car belonged to an employee of the Waasland-harbour near Antwerp. On 22 August, police arrested a Dutchman in the harbour on suspicion of smuggling drugs. On 30 June, five employees of the Waasland-harbour were arrested after 3.4 tonnes of cocaine was discovered in a shipping container.

    Last Thursday, police intercepted a shipment of 500 kilos of cocaine in the Antwerp harbour, which led to the arrest of four employees. Following a separate investigation, two additional harbour employees alleged to have assisted in the import of 700 to 800 kilos of cocaine were taken into custody.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times