Fugitive soldier spent two hours near home of ‘target’ Marc Van Ranst on Monday
Share article:
Share article:

Fugitive soldier spent two hours near home of ‘target’ Marc Van Ranst on Monday

Credit: Belga

The fugitive soldier Jürgen Conings (46) was in the neighbourhood of his “target,” virologist Marc Van Ranst, on Monday evening, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne confirmed on Friday afternoon after consultation with the Crisis Centre.

On the fourth day of the manhunt for Conings, an armed and radicalised soldier hiding from police since Tuesday after taking weapons from a military base and making threats against Van Ranst, Van Quickenborne confirmed to VRT NWS that the man did not act impulsively.

“The search is still ongoing, but it is now clear from the judicial investigation that this was not an impulsive act,” he said. “The man has been preparing for this for days, he is someone who is on the terrorist list, he is very dangerous.”

“For example, it has emerged that on Monday evening when he disappeared, he was near a target, hung around there for more than two hours, and finally turned back,” Van Quickenborne said.

He did not give any details about who the target was, but reliable sources confirmed to VRT that it concerned virologist Marc Van Ranst, who was brought to a secure location where he has been staying with his family since Tuesday.

“The next day, on Tuesday, his car was found. The investigation showed that it had been booby-trapped with the intention of making victims,” Van Quickenborne said, adding that munition and weapons of war were found inside.

Conings was previously placed under covert surveillance by military intelligence for his extreme right-wing views, and was also included on a list of the terrorist risk analysis unit OCAM as a PGE: a potentially violent extremist.

“So, this is someone who is very dangerous, and it is no coincidence that he is on the OCAM terrorist list,” he said. “He wants to use violence against society, and against our citizens.”

Related News:


In response to the thousands of people who have expressed their support for Conings on social media, Van Quickenborne underlined that people should “properly understand what kind of person this man really is.”

“This is the only soldier on the OCAM list, and that’s a terrorist list. People are not placed on such a list lightly,” he said. “This is someone who wants to use violence because of his extremist ideologies.”

“You should know that the jihadi extremists of IS are also on that list,” Van Quickenborne stressed. “He is that kind of person, who is a threat to our society and the safety of our people.

In the meantime, the search for Conings continues in the Hoge Kempen National Park in Limburg. “This is evaluated hour by hour, but we hope, of course, to find him as soon as possible,” said Van Quickenborne.

The federal public prosecutor’s office assumes that Conings is still alive, and the focus of the search is still on the National Park, even though the perimeter for the investigation has now been expanded.

Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, Belgium’s police and army gathered on the edge of the park, with support from forces from Germany and the Netherlands, both of which border closely on the area in question.

Not only manpower, but also two helicopters, armoured personnel carriers and other heavy vehicles were deployed in the search.

During a “thorough sweep” of the area on Thursday, a groundsheet was found, presumed to have been used by Conings to improvise a sleeping place.

On Friday, an examining magistrate opened an investigation for “attempted murder in a terrorist context, and prohibited possession of weapons in a terrorist context,” the federal public prosecutor’s office confirmed to the Belga news agency.

Meanwhile, Van Ranst and his family feel well-protected, thanks to the impressive weaponry his security detail is equipped with, he told De Morgen earlier.

Latest news

Brussels pharmacies report rush on rapid tests due to Covid Safe Ticket
Many pharmacists in Brussels have noticed a remarkable increase in the demand for Covid-19 tests this weekend, following the official expansion of ...
Students filmed naked on ULB campus given a warning
A group of students caught on camera mimicking sexual acts on the campus of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) have been issued an official ...
EU Digital Covid Certificate becomes an international success story
The European Commission adopted on Monday a report on the EU Digital Covid Certificate and its implementation across the EU. According to the ...
Belgian chocolatier agrees to $15 million settlement over misled consumers allegations
Internationally recognised Belgian chocolate manufacturer Godiva has reached a $15 million (€12.9 million) settlement after US consumers said they ...
‘Buying second home does not mean you are rich’: government disagrees on tax break
The Francophone liberal MR party and the Flemish socialist Vooruit party strongly disagree on the current scheme for tax benefits on people's second ...
EMA starts evaluating Pfizer vaccine for children over 5 years old
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started evaluating an application to extend the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to children ...
Energy prices: EU’s demand and supply dilemma in importing natural gas
The European Commission adopted last week a plan on how to tackle the rise in global energy prices in the short-term while relying on the transition ...
Tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels’ outskirts to airport
Works on a tram line connecting Brussels, the NATO headquarters and Brussels Airport in Zaventem, which could attract up to 10,000 passengers a day, ...
SKYFALL: European police complete counter-drone training in Antwerp
In a joint project between Belgium’s federal police and the Brussels Capital Ixelles Policing Area, 15 European police officers visited Antwerp to ...
Offshore wind farms could help reach climate neutrality by 2050
A study carried out by the Bureau fédérale du Plan (BFP) – an independent Belgian organisation that investigates questions of environmental and ...
Will Brussels bounce back?
The lockdowns have tested the city and forced it to confront key questions about its future. Derek Blyth looks back at an extraordinary moment in our ...
STIB launches free transport for Museum Night Fever this weekend
STIB buses will run between Brussels museums for free on Saturday night as part of the Museum Night Fever celebrations taking over the capital.  ...