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Terrifying moment van drives into cafe terrace in Brussels, injuring six before driver flees scene

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This is the terrifying moment a van drove into people sitting on a cafe terrace in Brussels at an ‘extremely high speed’, injuring six people. 

Video shows the male suspect driving a van into the seating area outside a crowded cafe in the centre of the Belgian capital on Friday afternoon at around 1pm local time (11.00 GMT).

Six people suffered minor injuries and pictures from the scene on Rue Saint-Michel shows tables and chairs strewn across the floor outside the cafe. 

The driver did not stop after he smashed into the victims and fled the scene in the van, which was found abandoned by police on a nearby street at around 2pm.

Police arrested the suspect, 48, in the city of Antwerp, 28 miles north of Brussels, around two hours later, local media reported.  

Witnesses told Radio 1 that they saw the van driving towards the cafe at ‘breakneck speed while swinging side by side’.

One witness said he and his girlfriend ‘had to jump for our lives’ to avoid being crushed by the van.

Others claimed they had heard the suspect shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attack, but police said it was too soon to speculate on whether the driver had deliberately targeted the diners.

Video shows the male suspect driving a van into the seating area outside a cafe in the centre of Brussels on Friday afternoon at around 1pm local time

Six people were injured and pictures from the scene shows tables and chairs strewn across the floor outside the cafe

Six people were injured and pictures from the scene shows tables and chairs strewn across the floor outside the cafe

Six people suffered minor injuries and pictures from the scene on Rue Saint-Michel shows tables and chairs strewn across the floor outside the cafe

Six people suffered minor injuries and pictures from the scene on Rue Saint-Michel shows tables and chairs strewn across the floor outside the cafe

The British embassy in Belgium said they were aware of the incident near the pedestrian street of Rue Neuve and urged Brits in the area to follow ‘official guidance’. 

Belgian authorities have now raised the terror threat level to three – meaning severe – in the city, while it remains at level two for the rest of the country, reports HLN

Phillipe Close, the mayor of Brussels, told the Le Soir newspaper that the van had entered the Rue Saint-Michel ‘at an extremely high speed and was aiming for the terrace’.

CCTV from outside the cafe shows diners sitting on the terrace before the white van comes speeding towards them. 

The van is seen ramming into the tables, with some diners managing to jump out of the way at the last second. 

A witness told Radio 1: ‘We were just enjoying the terrace. The terraces were quite full. Suddenly a white van drove up at breakneck speed, swinging from side by side. We had to jump against the wall.’

Another witness told VRT: ‘The driver drove from left to right down the street and hit everything he came across. We, my girlfriend and I, had to jump for our lives.’ 

He added: ‘This was deliberate. He wanted to hit everything in his way. There was panic. People were screaming and yelling. I saw some people were injured too. Most of them were in shock. I was in shock myself. It was terrible.’

Six people suffered minor injuries but none of the victims were taken to hospital.

CCTV from outside the cafe shows diners sitting on the terrace before the white van comes speeding towards them. The van is seen ramming into the tables, with some diners managing to jump out of the way at the last second

CCTV from outside the cafe shows diners sitting on the terrace before the white van comes speeding towards them. The van is seen ramming into the tables, with some diners managing to jump out of the way at the last second

The van is seen ramming into the tables, with some diners managing to jump out of the way

The van is seen ramming into the tables, with some diners managing to jump out of the way

Police officers stand guard outside the cafe after a van driver drove into the outside terrace area

Police officers stand guard outside the cafe after a van driver drove into the outside terrace area

Police are still searching for the suspect after they found the van abandoned on a street close to the scene, reports HLN

Specialist officers from the Belgian army’s bomb disposal unit are checking the van for explosions as a precautionary measure.

Witnesses have now been taken to the local police station as officers investigate the incident. 

‘These are tourists, city employees, residents and Belgians visiting the capital,’ mayor Close said of the victims. 

Police said it was too soon to speculate on whether the driver had deliberately targeted the diners.

This is a breaking news story, more to follow… 

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