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The sniper who threatened the virologist found dead in Belgium

The body of 46-year-old soldier Jurgen Konings was found in Belgium. In early 2021, he began to criticize the country's chief virologist on social networks and soon sent him threatening letters. In May, a sniper stole weapons from a military base and fled to the forest, where hundreds of soldiers searched for him for a month, reports Break News.

46-year-old Belgian soldier Jurgen Konings, who served as a sniper in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Iraq, in January 2021 began to publish posts threatening civil servants and public figures for the introduction of strict restrictions due to the pandemic.

At that time, the country was under a curfew, all religious sites and restaurants were closed, collective events were prohibited, and no more than one person could be invited to visit.

In particular, Konings addressed threats to one of the country's leading scientists, virologist Mark Van Ranst, the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported.

On February 17, the military intelligence division, which analyzes the threats of terrorism and extremism in Belgium, studied Koning's posts on social networks and considered his rhetoric a serious threat.

The leadership was notified about this, but the military was not suspended from service, and access to weapons was not restricted.

In early May 2021, Conings began sending threats to Van Ranst directly — to social media messengers. He also asked his subscribers if they knew the address of the virologist.

On May 17, a man escaped from a military base, stealing four grenade launchers, a submachine gun, a pistol, and a bulletproof vest.

At home in the town of Hebden-Zolder in the province of Limburg, he left farewell notes with threats against the state, in which he claimed that he “no longer wants to live in a society ruled by politicians and virologists.”

On the same day, his girlfriend Gwen contacted law enforcement, after which she appeared on television and also called on Conings to surrender.

"Jurgen, if you're still alive, make sure there are no casualties. Make it stop. For me, for my family. You decide how but stop it, " Gwen begged.

The virologist and his family were evacuated to a safe place during the search.

Law enforcement officers found out that during this time the man managed to arrive at the house of the virologist, where he watched his movements for three hours, and also to visit the grave of his parents — there he left his awards for military service, the AFP news agency reported.

On May 18, 2021, in a forest park in Limburg, a forester found Konings ' abandoned car-it was booby-trapped, but the explosive mechanism did not work. Weapons were also found, including four anti-tank grenade launchers.

The soldier's escape sparked a political and public debate.

For tens of thousands of Belgians, it has become a symbol of the struggle against government policy — for two days of the existence of the group “As one for Jurgen” in the social network Facebook, almost 40 thousand people joined it, wrote the Belgian magazine P-magazine.

Subscribers called the soldier's escape a manifesto against the “inconsistent measures of the government in the face of a pandemic” — many offered the fugitive shelter and food.

“I hope we will help him with this: this is a military man who needs help now. He has served the country for so many years, including in Afghanistan, and he has seen many things that we would not want to see — horrors. At the same time, we all hope that nothing will happen. No one should die. No one wants this, “wrote one of Konings' fans.

A few days later, the community was blocked.

After a week of searching, the police suspected 11 colleagues of the fugitive of extremism — their homes were searched, they were denied access to weapons.

As a result, on June 20, 2021, Konings ' body was accidentally found by the mayor of Maaseika, Johan Tollenaer, after smelling a cadaverous smell while riding a bicycle near the park. The federal police reported that Conings most likely committed suicide.

Virologist Van Ranst said the event was a huge relief for his family. At the same time, he expressed his condolences to the family of Konings.

“The fact that he was found is especially pleasant for my son. I guess my time here in the safe house is over. It's twofold: I have little sympathy for this man, but he also has a family and children, " he told De Morgen newspaper.

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