Suicide bid at gates of Laken Castle

Police have ruled out that the man who drove his car into the police motorbike escort of the Qatari ambassador wanted to assassinate the ambassador or King Albert.

A car crashed into the police escort waiting for the ambassador of Qatar outside the royal palace of Laken in Brussels on Tuesday morning. Eight people were injured. One officer, who was fighting for his life, is now on the mend.

The police motorbike escort was waiting for the ambassador at the gate outside the royal palace when the incident occurred. The mayor of Brussels has denied that the ambassador was the intended target saying that the driver simply wanted to kill himself.

Eyewitness Halima Moutafattih: "We were standing outside the palace looking at the police on motorbike. It's so nice to see what happens inside, but suddenly a car careered into the police. It went so quickly. It was hard to say whether this was an accident or the driver drove into the police on purpose. There was hardly any traffic at the time."

Christian De Coninck of the Brussels police says that this was a suicide attack: "The escort was waiting outside the castle with eight federal police colleagues when a driver chose to crash into them. The motorist has been detained. He told us he wanted to kill himself."

The ambassador of Qatar was inside the castle at the time where he was handing King Albert his credentials.

Police spokeswoman Astrid Kaisin was keen to emphasize that the driver was not targeting the ambassador of Qatar: “It was an act of desperation. The driver wanted to commit suicide. We are working on the thesis that this was not an attack.”

The driver, who had Belgian number plates, was also injured and had to be taken to hospital. He is a 40year-old Algerian national, who 18 months ago benefited from an amnesty allowing undocumented people to stay in the country. He has been detained.