Explosion, Gunshots In Belgian Drugs Hotspot Antwerp

No one was hurt in Thursday's incident in Hoboken, a riverside district in the south of the city.

Belgium flag.


Belgian police were investigating Friday after explosives were detonated in the entrance of an apartment block in the port city of Antwerp, a hub for Europe’s drug traffickers.

No one was hurt in Thursday’s incident in Hoboken, a riverside district in the south of the city, but prosecutors are investigating links to Antwerp’s notorious cocaine gangs.

“Multiple shots were also fired at or near the property,” said a statement from the city prosecutors’ office.

“Before the explosion, the perpetrators hung a banner in the entrance hall with a message that was lost as a result of the explosion.

“There is serious material damage: the entire entrance hall of the building was damaged by the explosion and the front door was also destroyed.”

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Antwerp is Europe’s second business cargo port and international police now believe it is the single biggest port of entry for Latin American cocaine in Europe.

The trade is controlled by powerful international gangs, including the so-called “Mocro Maffia” which emerged from the Moroccan community in the Netherlands.

The gangs often clash and Antwerp’s residential neighbourhoods are regularly rocked by gunfire and grenade and bomb attacks.

Last week an 11-year-old girl was killed and her father and two sisters injured when gunmen opened fire through the garage door of their house.

The next day, Belgian customs announced that a record 109.9 tonnes of cocaine had been seized in Antwerp last year — but far more is thought to get through and feed the European market.