The police are warning that civilians should not approach Conings, but rather they should notify the police immediately. Soldier is about 6 feet tall, bald, and has multiple tattoos. He was wearing a dark Timberland shirt when he left home on Tuesday.
Anxiety in schools
Het Belang van Limburg reports that dozens of primary school children in the area are staying home today. “We have already contacted many worried parents over the phone,” a school principal told the newspaper. So the gate around his school building was closed when all the children were inside.
The Belgian governor of Limburg told the Belga News Agency that at the moment, no additional security measures have been taken. Many mosques in the area will remain closed as a precaution. Islamic places of worship are also guarded at Maasmechelen. It is unclear if the mosques were a tangible target for the tribes.
Minister under fire
Belgian Defense Minister Ludivin Diedunder, who herself received additional security measures, has come under fire over the Konings case. The soldier was known to the Belgian counterterrorism services as a “potential violent extremist with extreme right-wing ideas”, but was nonetheless able to take heavy weapons with him from barracks for target practice.
In a parliamentary debate today, the minister said that tougher measures would be taken against soldiers who express themselves as racist, sexist, or fascist. For example, tougher penalties will be imposed or these soldiers will be fired.
A member of Parliament from the Social Democratic Party, Vorot Diedunder, reminded that there have been concerns about extremist soldiers for some time. “When I asked you about it the other day, I said,“ There’s not much we can do about it.
In the debate, Belgian Prime Minister de Crew warned that repression is not the only solution to extremism in society. “The key is an inclusive society in which everyone counts. We don’t allow ourselves to be divided over situations like this.”
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