Machine guns, a "Bearcat" and ID checks: Antwerp was a different place last night

The city of Antwerp started operation 'Night Watch' last night to step up the fight against drugs gangs: how did local people experience this major security operation? "When I saw the machine guns, I was scared. But sometimes this may be necessary."

The operation focused on Borgerhout and Deurne-Noord, which had the most problems with drugs-related crime or incidents. After midnight, police vans were seen stopping cars to carry out identity checks. Youngsters lingering around the Bisthovenplein were also checked. The armoured vehicle "Bearcat" was also seen in the area. 

Locals had mixed feelings. Some are happy that Mayor Bart De Wever is finally taking action, and admit it was necessary. "We arrived home and saw people with machine guns. That gives you a scare", says Julienne Lemmens. "But sometimes it is necessary to keep an extra eye on things." 

Others fear that the police action may have the opposite effect. "I think this could provoke certain reactions", says Amir Bachrouri. "People who have the wrong idea about the police, may seek a confrontation." 

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