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Police Say Killers Of 8 Shot At Anything That Moved

November 10, 1985

AALST, Belgium (AP) _ Police said Sunday that the robbers of a supermarket fired shotguns and pistols ″at anything that moved″ during the holdup that left eight people dead and six wounded.

The robbery at the Delhaize supermarket in Aalst, 16 miles west of Brussels, occurred about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, 15 minutes before closing time. Police said the robbers took about $3,800 and escaped.

Witnesses had said there were only three robbers, but police said Sunday they were looking for four men including the driver of the getaway car.

Killed during the robbery were a man and his 9-year-old daughter, shot in their car; a couple and their 14-year-old daughter; a 30-year-old woman, and an elderly man. The eighth victim, a 40-year-old man, died of shotgun wounds to the head late Sunday.

On Sept. 27, eight people were killed in robberies at two Delhaize stores, and police suspect the same gang pulled Saturday’s holdup.

The gunmen Saturday night fired up to 40 times on their way in and out of the store, got into a car and quickly evaded police after shooting at their pursuers, according to police.

A first aid official said on Belgian radio that ″people were shot in cold blood from 30 centimeters (one foot) away.″

″They shot at anything that moved - it was a real massacre,″ said police spokesman Alfons van den Broeck.

Authorities did not rule out that left-wing terrorists may be behind the Aalst holdup and other robberies in which 20 people were killed since 1982.

″Belgium, which was once spared the violence that struck other European nations in recent years, has entered the cycle of extreme violence on the one hand and terrorism on the other,″ Justice Minister Jean Gol said on Belgian television after the robbery.

The robbers fled in a gray Volkswagen Golf. Police said they found a stolen, gray Volkswagen Golf near Brussels a few hours later. The doors, back seat and hood had been removed and inside were rounds of ammunition.

The supermarket is near a six-lane highway leading from Brussels to the North Sea coast.

In the Sept. 27 attacks, gunmen killed eight people during robberies of two Delhaize stores in towns south of Brussels. Police linked those killings to the execution-style deaths of 12 people in robberies in 1982 and 1983 in the Brussels area.

Authorities reportedly believe these robberies may be the work of what local newspapers call the ″Nivelles Gang,″ named after the town south of Brussels where the killers first struck in 1982.

State Prosecutor Andre Vandoren has said he suspects a link between the Fighting Communist Cells terrorist group, known by the initials CCC in Belgium, and a Nov. 4 holdup of an armored postal van in eastern Belgium in which two postmen died and $132,000 was stolen.

Gol said ″we cannot confirm there is a link″ between the supermarket holdups and the CCC, which has claimed responsibility for 18 bomb attacks since a year ago.

But he added a possible connection ″can at the same time not be excluded.″