Three explosions in Antwerp may be related to drug gang conflict

Three explosions in Antwerp may be related to drug gang conflict
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Three explosions have now been recorded in Antwerp over the past three days, caused by grenades placed on doorsteps and under a car.

The culprits and their motives remain unknown, however, police are investigating whether the explosions are connected to a conflict between rival drug gangs.

Early Monday morning, a third explosion caused by a grenade shook up De Gryspeerstraat in Deurne, in the eastern part of the city of Antwerp.

The ground floor of the target building had housed a pharmacy for years, but was vacant at the time of the explosion. According to police, someone threw the grenade into the entry hall, from which it bounced back onto the street before exploding.

Next to the former pharmacy, however, lives a family member of known drug lord Othman El B. He has been connected to multiple cases of cocaine trafficking in Antwerp.

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

Last Friday night, shots were fired at a family home in the Beukenstraat in the eastern Antwerp city district of Borgerhout. One of the family members, a son, has been affiliated with the Turtles drug gang, which unleashed a drug war after 200 kilos of cocaine had been stolen from them.

On the night of Saturday to Sunday, two further explosions were recorded. One damaged the front door of a house in the Kerkhofweg in Ekstelaar, on the eastern edge of Antwerp city. It is unclear whether a grenade was used in this attack, as is the case for the other explosions.

While police were at the scene, another detonation was reported in the Godtsstraat in Borgerhout, close to the location of Friday’s shooting in the Beukenstraat. This time, a grenade had been placed under a car belonging to a family whose son works at the Waasland-harbour.

On 30 June, five employees of the Waasland-harbour were arrested after 3.4 tonnes of cocaine was discovered in a shipping container. The shipment is estimated to have been worth €170 million.

No one has been injured or killed as a result of the explosions.

Amée Zoutberg

The Brussels Times

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