Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Jurgen Conings: Manhunt for ‘heavily-armed, far-right’ Belgian soldier who threatened pro-vaccine virologist

A manhunt has begun for a Belgian soldier and far-right terror suspect, who is thought to be heavily armed and who has been missing since reportedly threatening a pro-vaccine virologist three days ago.

Army personnel have joined police using tracker dogs in the search for Jurgen Conings.

The soldier, 46, has not been seen since he had made threats against Belgian institutions and celebrities, a federal prosecutor said, without giving details.

Coning is believed to be heavily armed as weapons including anti-tank rocket launchers and ammunition, taken from a military base, were found in his abandoned car near Dilsen in west Belgium.

As well as armoured vehicles, the army deployed de-mining equipment to help police searching Hoge Kempen, a 12,000-hectare (30,000 acre) park of woodland, lakes and dunes.

A highway through the area, located 65 miles (104km) east of Brussels, was closed.

The Belgian government said earlier this week that Conings was on a list of potential terrorists due to far-right tendencies.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, speaking to the Belga news agency, said: “The question is how someone active in the defence service – who is on a security list as a person with extremist ideas and who has already made threats – gained access to weapons and was able to take them away.”

Local media linked Conings to Marc van Ranst, a COVID-19 expert supportive of vaccines and social restrictions who has advised the Belgian government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Van Ranst told Belga that he had lodged a complaint after death threats were made against him on the website of the
Viruswaanzin (Virus Insanity) organisation, a group that has held protests against COVID-19 curbs.

The virologist said he and his family had been moved to a safe location.

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