Belgium: 11-year-old girl killed in drug war

It’s a whole city that is in shock, in mourning. An 11-year-old girl was killed on Monday in a house in Antwerp, Belgium, by a gunshot that could be linked to intimidation or settling scores between drug traffickers, according to authorities.

Mayor Bart De Wever linked the murder to “a drug war that has been going on for months” in the major port city. “Criminals are attacking the homes of other criminals” and “what I feared for a long time has happened; an innocent victim has fallen, a child,” the elected official told Flemish television, assuring that “the affected family is known”.

Contacted, the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office indicated that this track of the link with the drug world “is the subject of investigations”. An investigating judge was seized for “murder” and went in the evening to the scene of the tragedy, in the Antwerp district of Merksem, said the prosecution.

Hit by microwave explosion

According to the first elements communicated by the police, the girl was on the ground floor of the house in a living room located behind the garage door targeted by the shooter(s). She would not have been directly hit by the shots, but would have received the fragments of a microwave oven which exploded under the impact of the bullets, according to these elements reported by the Belga press agency. She succumbed to her injuries.

Monday evening Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden lamented “a horrible tragedy”. “We will do everything we can to catch these ruthless criminals. Children have nothing to do with any drug war,” she added on Twitter.

The port of Antwerp is the main route of entry into Europe for cocaine imported from Latin America, and the traffic generates increasingly violent crime which worries the authorities.

The financial stakes are colossal and sharpen the rivalries between gangs, which are at the origin of shootings or throwing of targeted explosive devices. This violence is often seen as intimidation or acts aimed at directing the attention of the police to one family or place more than another.

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