Dutch police warned about violent extremist hunting Belgian virologist
Dutch police are on high alert over a missing soldier from Belgium sought by police after threatening one of that country’s top virologists during the coronavirus pandemic response, Marc Van Ranst. The 46-year-old male suspect reportedly has extreme right wing leanings, and resides in the border region of Belgium and the Netherlands, according to VRT. His car was located close to his home.
“There are no indications that this person is in our country. It is good that we have been informed by our Belgian colleagues. In this way we can act immediately if necessary,” a Dutch police representative said to newspaper AD
The manhunt started on Tuesday afternoon after it became apparent that the soldier left his base dressed in a bulletproof vest, and armed with a rocket launcher, machine gun, and a pistol barracks with a few weapons. The 46-year-old man from Dilsen-Stokkem in Belgium near the Dutch province of Limburg is now on the terrorist watch list of the Belgian police, Belgian Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne confirmed.
The newspaper De Standaard also wrote that he left a suicide note. AD reported that the note was found at his home, and he used expressed himself in a threatening manner. In it, he is said to have written that he would not leave the fight alive and that he would continue to oppose politicians and virologists.
"It is feared that he wants to carry out a violent action, against himself or against other persons, but the correct possible targets are still unclear," said Belgian public prosecutor Eric Van Duyse, according to AD.
At around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, police searched the area where the man resides for what police helicopter was deployed. An Audi car which belongs to the professional soldier was found in the area. Around 2.30 a.m. Wednesday morning, a tow truck arrived to retrieve the soldier's car from the forest of the Heuvelven estate in Dilsen-Stokkem.
“The person had made threats to several targets in the past period. Therefore, the report of the firearms-threatening individual was taken seriously and the police took action,” police representative Erik Cenens confirmed on Tuesday afternoon, Nieuwsblad reported.
Several sources confirm that Van Ranst and his family were brought to safety. It remains unclear if the threats against him were concrete.
The search, which started on Tuesday afternoon in the Kempenland police zone, was later taken over by the federal prosecutor.