UK & World News

  • 26 May 2014, 8:42

Jewish Museum Shooting Claims Fourth Victim

A fourth person has died following a shooting spree at a Jewish museum in Brussels amid fears of a rise in anti-Semitism.

A receptionist at the museum, believed to be in his early 20s, has now died of gunshot wounds, according to AFP.

Two Israeli tourists - reportedly a couple - and a French woman had already been confirmed dead following Saturday's shooting, which French President Francois Hollande says was clearly of "anti-Semitic character".

His comments came shortly before a separate assault on two Jewish brothers near a synagogue in Paris.

"The anti-Semitic character of this act, a shooting in the Jewish museum in Brussels with the intention to kill, is in no doubt," said Mr Hollande.

"We must do everything to fight against anti-Semitism and racism."

Belgian police have released CCTV footage of a suspect - dressed in sunglasses and a cap - walking into the museum with two bags, removing an automatic rifle and shooting through a door before walking away.

They believe he acted alone.

"From the images we have seen, we can deduce that the author probably acted alone and was well prepared," said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

"It's still too early to confirm whether it's a terrorist or an anti-Semitic attack, all lines of investigation are still open."

The victims were shot in the face and neck.

Security around all Jewish institutions in Belgium has been raised to the highest level. The country is home to 42,000 Jews, half of whom live in Brussels. 

The French government has also tightened security around synagogues and Jewish cultural centres following the Paris attack on two men dressed in "traditional" attire. Both victims were taken to hospital after being beaten by two attackers, one on a bike and one on foot, AFP reported.

The attacks were condemned by Pope Francis as he visited Israel on the latest leg of his Middle-East tour.

"I am profoundly saddened, my thoughts go out to those who lost their lives in the attack in Brussels," the pontiff said.                 

"Let us promote an education... where there will be no place for anti-Semitism in any of its forms or for expressions of hostility, discrimination or intolerance towards any individual or people."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Pope's comments but accused some European leaders of hypocrisy for allegedly failing to adequately condemn anti-Semitic attacks.

He said: "There are elements in Europe that rush to condemn the construction of a flat in Jerusalem but do not rush to condemn - or offer only weak condemnations of - the murder of Jews here or in Europe itself and, even worse, welcome unity with a terrorist element such as Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

"We oppose such hypocrisy, we protest against it."

Prime Minister David Cameron has written to his Belgian counterpart, Elio Di Rupo, to pledge to "work with you to confront such bigotry across Europe".

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