Dutch and German police on standby in case manhunt for armed soldier crosses border

Dutch and German police on standby in case manhunt for armed soldier crosses border
Credit: Belga

Dutch police have confirmed that special units are on standby in the Netherlands in case fugitive Jürgen Conings tries to cross the border, according to Belga News Agency, and German troops have also been mobilised.

The search is currently taking place in the Hoge Kempen National Park, which has been closed to visitors since Wednesday as the multi-day manhunt continues.

The federal public prosecutor's office still assumes that Conings is alive and has entrenched himself in the nature reserve, but VRT reports that a police action is also underway on a bridge in the Leuven sub-municipality of Wijgmaal.

According to the police, this is a “preventive action” following a report in connection with the wanted soldier.

“There is no need to worry, we are taking it safe,” said the Leuven police.

Because the park where authorities suspect Conings is hiding is close to the Dutch and German borders, it’s not impossible that he is trying to get to one of those countries. The local police say they are “on alert and ready.”

Police did not say how many units were deployed.

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A number of mosques in the province of Limburg have closed as a precaution, with extra security measures being put in place. The suspect is said to have extreme right-wing views for which he was placed on a terrorist watch list in Belgium.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst - against whom the suspect has made threats - and his family remain in a protected safe house.

Conings, a professional soldier, disappeared sometime on Monday. His disappearance was reported on Tuesday, before military-grade weapons were found in his car that evening near Hoge Kempen National Park.

On Thursday morning, several members of the press and residents reported hearing gunshots in the nature park.

The security perimeter was extended and the press was asked to stay away.

Ambulances arrived in large numbers and remain on stand-by.

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