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11-year-old girl fatally shot in Antwerp

09:00 12/01/2023

Police are investigating the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old in Antwerp, believing it could be related to the drug trade.

The 11-year-old girl was killed earlier this week and police suspect the murder could be an act of intimidation or the settling of scores between drug dealers.

“Children have nothing to do with any drug war,” interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) said on Twitter. “We will do everything we can to catch these ruthless criminals.”

Shootings are rare in Antwerp and in Belgium as a whole, especially when compared to other countries, but the fatal shooting of a child is especially unprecedented.

“The unthinkable has happened: an 11-year-old child shot dead in the war between drug dealers in Antwerp,” said Peter Mertens, secretary general of the PTB/PVDA (Workers’ Party of Belgium).

“The fight against drug-related violence is a complex issue. It needs resources. But maybe also a different approach.”

Other politicians reacted, as well, with Ilse van Dienderen (Groen Antwerp) saying she was at a loss for words when she heard that a child had been killed in drug-related violence.

Antwerp's alderman for urban planning Annick De Ridder (N-VA) called it “terribly sad news” and added that she offers “condolences to the parents, family and friends. My anger is directed at the corrupt environment that caused this tragedy.”

Belgium’s federal justice minister also reacted: Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) said several other children had been seriously injured as well.

“The drug mafia cannot sink any lower than this,” he said on Twitter. “The police and the public prosecutor's office are doing everything they can to find and convict those responsible.”

Written by Helen Lyons