Belgium hunts Jewish museum gunman amid fears of anti-Semitism

Belgium hunts Jewish museum gunman amid fears of anti-Semitism

BRUSSELS - Belgian police hunted down a gunman Sunday who shot dead three people including two Israelis in an attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum reviving fears of a fresh wave of anti-Semitism in Europe.

The first attack against a Jewish target in Belgium for more than 30 years came as the country headed into a crucial general election and as a mammoth European ballot involving 400 million voters wound up. "An election day is usually a celebration of democracy.

Today it is clouded," said Belgium's premier Elio Di Rupo. "It is in everyone's mind." "In Belgium we are not accustomed to such acts of barbarity."

Welcoming Pope Francis in the Holy Land, Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the pontiff for his "determined stance against anti-Semitism, especially in light of the growing hatred of Jews that we are witness to in these days."

Deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch confirmed that two Israelis were among the fatalities as well as a French woman.

A fourth critically injured person was Belgian, she told a news conference.

Police had not been able to identify the gunman, who "probably" acted alone, she said, and was "well prepared and well armed."

A picture of the suspect will be released to the public shortly.

Saying there was no claim so far, she also said "I cannot confirm that it is a terrorist or anti-Semitic act" and added that "all leads remain open."

But French President Francois Hollande, during a visit to soutwhestern France to vote in European elections, said there was no doubt about the "anti-Semitic character" of the attack.

The attack has cast a pall across Europe as voters went to the polls.

It was the first fatal attack on a Jewish centre since the early 1980s in Belgium, home to some 40,000 Jews, roughly half of them living in Brussels, the remainder in Antwerp.

Netanyahu said the murders were "the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state".

The head of the EU executive Jose Manuel Barroso condemned the "terrible act" in the heart of the European capital, saying: "This was an attack at European values which we cannot tolerate."

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