Belgian Police Hunt Heavily Armed Soldier Who Threatened Virologist

May 19, 2021 Updated: May 19, 2021

BRUSSELS—Belgian police have launched a manhunt for a heavily armed soldier who disappeared on Monday after threatening a virologist supportive of COVID-19 vaccines and coronavirus restrictions.

The 46-year-old soldier, Jurgen Conings, left his home near the Dutch border on Monday morning and has not been seen since, police said in a search warrant published online.

Belgian Special Forces building
Belgian Special Forces building is seen at Salamander in Dilsen-Stokkem, Belgium, on May 19, 2021. (James Arthur Gekiere/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)

“There are indications that he is violent and, in the last 24 hours, evidence has emerged that the man poses an acute threat,” Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne told VTM Nieuws.

The manhunt started on Tuesday, after Conings threatened virologist Marc Van Ranst and his family, who were subsequently moved to safety. A number of weapons were found in his car on Tuesday night near Dilsen in western Belgium.

Belgian top virologist Marc Van Ranst
Belgian top virologist Marc Van Ranst looks into a microscope at his lab in Leuven, Belgium, on Feb. 19, 2020. (Francisco Seco/AP Photo)

Van Quickenborne said Conings was on a list of potential terrorists compiled by OCAM, an organization responsible for assess the threat of terrorism in Belgium.