The police chase drew 15 polcie cars and 30 officers, according to local reports.
The police chase drew 15 polcie cars and 30 officers, according to local reports.

A two-year-old migrant baby was shot while police gave chase to a van carrying illegal migrants in Belgium. Police are determining whether the fatal bullet came from a police weapon.

A two-year-old girl of Kurdish decent died after she was shot in the face during a police chase in southern Belgium, prosecutors said Friday.

The girl, named Mawda, was in a van with 29 others of Kurdish origin when the driver of the van took the police on a chase from Namur to Maisieres, a suburb of Mons, on Thursday morning. The girl, whose parents were also in the van, died on the way to the hospital after the chase. The other occupants in the van were taken into custody.

Police have started an internal investigation into the girl's death, said prosecutor Frederic Bariseau. It will determine whether the fatal shot came from a police officer, and whether there were any firearms in the vehicle.

"We cannot exclude that this bullet came from a police officer's gun," Bariseau told the French news agency AFP. He added, "the investigation will have to determine whether there were other shots, and from which police officer if it was a police officer, or someone in the van who could have been armed."

Patrol in Wallonia

The chase began after police on routine patrol in the capital of the Belgian region of Wallonia noticed the van's license plates were fake. The van drove away after police approached. Bariseau said there was an arrest attempt in Sambreville when the van pretended to stop, but then the van sped off again.

"That's when the police called for reinforcements and why we found ourselves with a fairly large number of police officers," he said.

Bariseau said there were shots fired by police at the end of the chase in Maisieres. 

Controversy over police force

Mawda's death shook the migrant community in Grande-Synthe, France, as some of the girl's family was located in the town. It also sparked controversy in Belgium, whether the extra police force was necessary. 

Maisieres is less than 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the Belgium-France border. The Belgium-France border has become a hotbed for migrants in recent times, with many traveling to Grande-Synthe or Calais to attempt to continue to the United Kingdom.

 

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