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Belgium: Soldier suspected of terrorism apparently found dead

2021-06-25T07:18:39.144Z

The disappearance of a suspected right-wing extremist Belgian soldier triggered an unprecedented search operation. Although he was listed as a threat, the man had access to an armory.



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Belgian soldiers on the search for the disappeared (archive picture)

Photo: PINO MISURACA / AFP

After a four-week manhunt for a soldier suspected of terrorism, a body was found in Ostbelgien.

The Belgian public prosecutor announced on Sunday that the first indications indicated that it was the wanted Jürgen Conings.

The cause of death is suspected to be suicide with a firearm.

However, this must be checked.

The alleged right-wing extremist Conings disappeared on May 17 near the Hoge Kempen National Park in the Limbourg region after writing threatening letters against the prominent Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst.

The location of the body in Dilsen-Stockem is nearby.

The borders with the Netherlands and Germany are only a few kilometers away.

At the time it was feared that Conings was planning an attack on state structures or public persons.

According to the authorities, a "suspicious mechanism" was found in the parked car of the wanted man, possibly an explosive device.

There were also heavy weapons in the car.

The man was investigated for attempted murder and illegal gun possession in a terrorist context.

Access to army weapons

An unprecedented search went on for weeks.

The army helped with hundreds of soldiers, armored vehicles and attack helicopters, and Interpol was called in.

According to a report in the newspaper »Le Soir«, the manhunt will cost around 650,000 euros by mid-June.

The 46-year-old's disappearance also had political consequences.

Because of right-wing extremist sympathies, Conings was on a suspect list of the Belgian anti-terrorist agency Ocam.

Nevertheless, he had direct access to the armory of his army unit.

Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder had to answer questions from Belgian MPs on several occasions.

The registration of the soldier as a threat to level three of four was not forwarded to the secret service in time, according to government information.

Chief virologist Van Ranst said on Sunday that he was relieved that the case was likely to be cleared up.

But it is not yet clear when he and his family will be able to leave his state-secured hiding place, he told the Belga news agency on the phone.

mak / dpa

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2021-06-25

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