Gunman Fires on Restaurant with ‘AK-47’ in Brussels on Christmas Eve

An armed Belgian police officer stands guard near Maelbeek - Maalbeek subway station in Brussels on March 23, 2016, a day after triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital killed about 35 people and left more than 200 people wounded. A series of explosions claimed by the Islamic State group …
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty

Belgian police are on the hunt for a gunman who shot at a restaurant in an upmarket part of Brussels on Christmas Eve with what a witness said was a “Kalashnikov-style” weapon.

The incident took place Monday morning at around 9:50 on Avenue Louise, according to Le Soir.

The Brussels public prosecutor office said that based on preliminary information, the suspect fired his weapon at a restaurant identified by a Soir journalist as La Parisienne, which was closed as the time. There were no injuries.

“A witness saw a man shoot with a Kalashnikov-style weapon in the direction of the window of a restaurant on Avenue Louise,” spokesman Ine Van Wymersch said. “At the location, the police found three bullet impact marks.”

The prosecutor’s office says there is no indication the incident was of a terrorist nature and no suspect has been identified. Forensic and ballistic investigators have been dispatched.

Witnesses said they saw the suspect flee the scene in a car.

French Republicans Party Member of the Senate commented on the shooting, condemning the firing of a “weapon of war in Brussels, in the heart of the French Quarter, on Christmas Eve.”

Despite Belgium and France having strict personal gun ownership laws, both have been plagued by shootings with Kalashnikov and other machine-gun type weapons.

Last year in Marseille, southern France, police responded to reports in May of men firing “Kalashnikov-style” weapons in a “sensitive,” high-migrant populated neighbourhood.

The year before, an arsenal of weaponry including an anti-tank missile launcher and, again, a Kalashnikov-style weapon, and several other weapons were discovered in a vehicle during a routine traffic stop near Marseille.

In January 2015, Belgian authorities were believed to have foiled an imminent suspected attack after two suspects were killed and another injured by police during a terror raid in Verviers where several AK-47s were recovered.

Kalashnikovs are the favoured weapons of Islamist terrorists, having used them in the multiple terror attacks in Paris in 2015, the 2015 Amsterdam-Paris Thalys attack, and the 2017 Champs-Élysées attack.

The weapon is readily available to jihadists and gangsters on the black market, coming from stockpiles in Russia and former Soviet bloc nations in eastern Europe.

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