One person shot dead as Brussels battles drug violence

Trafficking is on the rise in the Belgian capital

Police stand guard near a house where an officer was killed during an operation in Lodelinsart, Belgium, on March 18. EPA
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One person was killed and another seriously wounded in separate shootings in Brussels overnight on Saturday, prosecutors said on Sunday, as drug-related crimes surge in the Belgian capital.

Gunfire was heard in the Laeken district in the north of thecity, where one person was found in critical condition and died shortly after attempts at revival, the prosecutor's office said.

An investigation was launched into the murder and to find those responsible.

“I saw four people running,” a witness told local media RTBF. “The neighbourhood is becoming weird.”

A few hours later, another person was wounded by gunfire near the city centre and was in “critical condition” in hospital on Sunday, the prosecutor's office said, correcting an earlier statement from a police spokesman that the victim had died.

“At this stage, there is nothing to indicate that the two incidents are linked,” said prosecutors.

About half a dozen shootings thought to be linked to drug trafficking, one of them fatal, have taken place since February in Brussels, where the use of crack cocaine on the streets has become prevalent.

Belgium's Antwerp port, the gateway for cocaine into Europe, is plagued by gang violence linked to the illicit trade, but until recently the capital had largely been spared.

Under pressure to act, Brussels authorities on February 27 unveiled a strategy for tackling what senior security official Sophie Lavaux called the “unacceptable violence” encroaching on the city.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:52 PM