Antwerp starts 'Operation Night Watch', "the biggest security operation of the past 20 years"

The city of Antwerp is launching a large-scale security operation tonight to combat drugs crimes. Extra patrols should make sure that there are no more incidents with shootings or exploding grenades. 

There was a recent flare-up of incidents in Deurne and Borgerhout. "Our biggest fear is that there would be innocent victims. We had a narrow escape, but it was a wake-up call", says Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever. The recent incidents were serious, he added, "and so will be our response."

The operation will concentrate on the night, when most drugs crimes are taking place, but will also be visible during the day. Police chief Serge Muyters: "I can assure you: it will be clearly visible".  

Local district teams will be deployed to do research, there will be extra patrols, streets can be blocked if police suspect something could happen, special motorbike riders will be ready for a possible chase, and a Bearcat will be deployed, armoured vehicles to protect police officers against heavily armed drugs criminals. 

The operation is expected to take at least a couple of months. "As long as it takes", Serge Muyters says. 

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