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Three dead, one hurt in shoot-out at Brussels Jewish Museum

A girl takes a selfie at the hemicycle during the open doors day at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Saturday May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS: Three people were killed and one badly injured in a shoot-out Saturday at the Jewish Museum in Brussels city centre, Belga news agency said.

A Jewish community figure, Joel Rubinfeld, told AFP it clearly "is a terrorist act" as a man had been seen driving up and entering the museum before opening fire inside and running off.

Rubinfeld, who heads the country's anti-Semitic League, said the act was the result of "a climate of hate."

"I am shocked by the murders committed at the Jewish museum, I am thinking of the victims I saw there and their families," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter.

A bystander, Alain Sobotik, told AFP he had seen the minister at the scene.

No information was immediately available from police on the circumstances of the shoot-out but Sobotik said he saw the corpses of a young woman and a man just inside the doors of the museum.

A picture shows them lying in pools of blood.

The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was not answering calls, is located in the heart of the Sablon district which is home to the city's top antique dealers.

Police quickly cordoned off the area.

The La Libre newspaper said on its website that an Audi had driven up and parked outside the museum, and that both a passenger and the driver had gotten out.

It said the driver placed two bags on the ground and then opened fire on bystanders before driving off.

Minister Reynders told the paper that he was in the area when "I heard shots and rushed to the scene and saw bodies on the ground."

Interior Minister Joelle Milquet too was in the area, a popular weekend haunt for shoppers and holidayers.

The head of Belgium's Jewish Consistory told La Libre that "is is probably a terrorist act. For us it is an extremely serious act."

He said the museum had received no recent threats and that its staff "are in shock".

The police had a "serious tip", he added, amid reports that a bystander had given the police the car's registration number.

 

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