Fugitive Belgian soldier Jurgen Conings found dead

Extremist’s body discovered in woods in eastern Belgium after four-week manhunt

(FILES) This handout picture released by Belgian Federal Police on May 19, 2021 shows an undated portrait of Jurgen Conings. Belgian police were hunting for Jurgen Conings, a soldier with suspected far-right views who has gone on the run after threatening public figures, including renowned virologist Marc Van Ranst, a leading academic who has become a public figure in Belgium during the coronavirus crisis.
 A body found in eastern Belgium is probably that of a soldier suspected of extreme-right views who went missing after stealing arms from a military base and threatening public figures, prosecutors said. Hundreds of police and army personnel were deployed last month on the hunt for Conings, 46, after his abandoned vehicle was found in the area near the Dutch border with four rocket launchers inside.  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BELGIAN FEDERAL POLICE " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / BELGIAN FEDERAL POLICE / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BELGIAN FEDERAL POLICE " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

A heavily armed soldier who threatened a top virologist was found dead on Sunday.

Jurgen Conings, 46, who had anti-vaccine views and was on a terrorism watchlist, had been on the run for a month.

“The cause of death is probably, according to initial findings, attributable to suicide by firearm, but this cause will have to be established during a future forensic examination,” the Belgian federal prosecutors’ office said.

Conings’s body was found in woodland in Dilserbos, eastern Belgium, after a cyclist noticed a smell and raised the alarm.

Police earlier said the soldier was an “acute threat” and that there were “indications that he is violent”.

A manhunt was launched after the discovery of letters, apparently by Conings, that said he did not want to live in “a society ruled by virologists” and pledging to “join the resistance”.

He was thought to be carrying a rocket launcher, a sub-machinegun, a bulletproof vest and a pistol, and had stolen weapons from a barracks.

Conings made threats against Dr Marc Van Ranst, a prominent Covid-19 virologist in Belgium, and other experts.

Dr Van Ranst and his family were taken into protective police custody.

“Being against Covid measures and Covid vaccines all too often coincides with aggression, violence and raw racism,” he said last month.

“Let one thing be clear: such threats do not make an impression on me.”

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