Attack foiled at Miss Belgium pageant
A 46-year-old man suspected of planning an attack during the Miss Belgium pageant was arrested in the Belgian coastal town of De Panne on Saturday night. The suspect, Peter C., was in possession of a handgun, and a firearm and a bullet-proof vest were found in his vehicle. The pageant took place later that evening at the Plopsaland theme park in De Panne.
"The investigation showed that he probably wanted to carry out an attack during the Miss Belgium pageant, which was due to take place a short time later at Plopsaland. Peter C.'s exact motives are still unclear. He was not known to either police or security services," the Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a press release.
The man was accompanied by a woman of Dutch nationality. It is unclear for now whether she was aware of his plans.
Several media outlets report that the police were alerted to the threat as early as Saturday afternoon. Police in Limburg, the Belgian province where the suspect lives, reportedly intercepted a message from the partner of the man threatening an attack. A large number of police went to De Panne and checked all the access roads to Plopsaland eventually intercepting the suspect.
"The case has been entrusted to an investigating judge of the judicial district of West Flanders, Bruges division. He will decide later on Sunday or Monday morning whether to bring the two people before him and whether to issue an arrest warrant," the press release said.
The Miss Belgium contest proceeded with some delay on Saturday evening. The venue was completely cleared and searched by sniffer dogs before the event started. Shortly after midnight, 21-year-old Emilie Vansteenkiste was crowned Miss Belgium 2023.
People waiting outside as the Miss Belgium pageant venue in Plopsaland in De Panne, Belgium, is cleared and searched © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER