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Magnet fishers find firearms dumped in Brussels canal

A typical fishing magnet, not for catching fish. © Wikimedia

A group of magnet fishers found seven firearms dumped in the Brussels canal, including one that had been in the water only briefly.

A magnet fisher is someone who goes search open-air water for iron waste, using a powerful neodymium magnet. The reasons vary, from cleaning up environmental waste to a search for valuables. The pastime is popular in the UK and Germany as well as Belgium.

This is not the first time weapons have been fished out of the Brussels canals. In 2017, three youths dangling a magnet on a string fished two metal boxes out of the Brussels-Charleroi canal, with the words Gendarmerie/Rijkswacht stencilled on.

The boxes contained several weapons and ammunition, and were found at a spot where divers involved in the investigation into the Brabant Killers had already searched in 1986, suggesting the boxes had been dumped after that.

The youths had originally stashed the find, together with a revolver and a bag, in a garden shed, in the hope of finding more and being able to claim a €250,000 reward offered by supermarket Delhaize for helping solve the case.

The Delhaize store in Aalst was the scene of the last of the Killers’ deadly robberies.

Last year, three magnet fishers in Erembodegem near Aalst found two magazines and a number of bullets in the River Dender. They too suspected a link with the Brabant Killers, but in neither of the two cases could any connection be established.

Back in Brussels, the haul included a Smith and Wesson .22 pistol, Kalashnikov-type weapon, two shotguns and another two handguns. The finders locked them in the boot of their car and called the police immediately.

This time the finders were not searching for treasure. The volunteer group was set up two years ago to tackle the problem of iron objects dumped in the waterways, of which the Brussels canal is the worst example, causing problems for flora and fauna. As well as the firearms, the group has taken a total of five tonnes of iron waste out of the canal.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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