Belgium: Toddler ‘Held Out Window’ of Migrant Smuggling Van Dies in Police Chase

Migrant
AFP

A two-year-old girl has died in Belgium from a gunshot wound to the head after reportedly being held out of the window of a van full of migrants to keep pursuing police at a distance.

The suspected people-smuggling vehicle was carrying 30 Kurdish migrants — 26 adults and four children — and had been chased for around an hour in southern Belgium, near the town of Namur.

According to local media, police are investigating if the child’s body was used to break the window of the van after officers found traces of skin on the broken glass.

The girl, who had been with her mother, died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital, and an autopsy later revealed that she had died from a gunshot wound to the cheek.

Frederic Bariseau, a local deputy prosecutor, told a press conference on Friday afternoon that “an investigation will determine” what firearm was used and who fired it.

As many as 15 vehicles and 30 police officers were involved in the dramatic operation.

Officers initially approached the van because it had suspicious number plates before it took off down the motorway.

It reportedly swerved and had several near misses during the chase, and when officers finally caught up the driver had already fled the scene.

The family of the deceased girl, who are all of Kurdish origin, were living near the Grande-Synthe migrant camp outside the town of Dunkirk in northern France, local media claims.

Following the death of the little girl, about 60 migrants from this camp, including women and children, demonstrated on a nearby motorway.

Belgium’s Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon, said he had sympathy for both the victim and the police. “[Police officers] have done their job and must fight human trafficking every day,” he told RTL Info.

“Tragic event with dramatic consequences. The investigation is underway. This event again highlights the sad circumstances in which human trafficking thrives,” he added on Twitter.

The Grande-Synthe camp hit the headlines last year when it was swept by a massive fire, which destroyed about half of the settlement. Its population at the time was around 1,500.

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