TERRORISM

Belgium terror scare: Charges filed against armed Tunisian driver

  • A police robot next to the car near the river in Antwerp.

    A police robot next to the car near the river in Antwerp.  (Joris Herregods via AP)

  • A police inspector searches around the car.

    A police inspector searches around the car.  (Marc De Roeck via AP)

Belgian authorities have charged a Tunisian man with terror-related offenses after he allegedly drove his car at high speed around a busy shopping area in Antwerp.

The Federal prosecutor's office said Friday that Mohamed R., 39, was charged with "attempted murder in a terror context," and gun offenses.

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After driving in the area around the Meir shopping road on Thursday, he was arrested at the port docks. No one was injured.

Authorities found knives, a shotgun and a gas can containing an unknown liquid inside the car.

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Despite reports that people had to jump out of the way of the vehicle, several shop owners in the main Meir shopping area contacted by The Associated Press said they heard or saw nothing unusual.

An official at the prosecutor's office said the suspect had been "under the influence" but refused to elaborate whether it was drugs or alcohol.

At first, the incident appeared to have the hallmarks of several extremist attacks in Europe -- a vehicle in a busy area bent on mowing down pedestrians.

It came the day after an SUV was used to run people over on Westminster bridge in London, and follows two truck rampages in Berlin and Nice last year.

It also happened a day after Belgium held anniversary remembrance services for the Brussels airport and subway attacks, which killed 32 people on March 22, 2016.

Belgium has been living under the second highest anti-terror alarm ever since, with police and troops stationed in some public areas.