Toddler ‘shot’ in migrant van chase

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Toddler ‘shot’ in migrant van chase

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An autopsy carried out on the infant has revealed she died from a gunshot wound (file pic)

A two-year-old girl found with fatal injuries in Belgium after a police chase on Thursday died from a gunshot wound to the face, prosecutors say.

The girl was in a van carrying some 30 Kurdish migrants which had been pursued for an hour in southern Belgium.

The chase, which began on the E42 motorway near the town of Namur, involved a scuffle, police said.

A police spokesman said they did not know whether the fatal shot had been fired by a police officer.

An initial report from the emergency services had stated mistakenly that the cause of death was a head injury.

“The autopsy determined the cause of death was a bullet that entered the cheek,” prosecutor Frederic Bariseau told the AFP news agency, adding that the police could not confirm who had fired the bullet.

Belgian media reported that the girl, who was with her mother, had been held out of a van window apparently to keep the police at a distance.

Local prosecutors told the BBC they could not confirm the reports.

The chase began just outside Namur in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The van drove west for several kilometres, evading police. Eventually it collided with another vehicle near Mons and the girl was found.

It took 15 police cars and some 30 police to bring the incident to an end at around 03:00 (01:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Migrants staying at the nearby Grande-Synthe camp had known the girl who had died as she was part of a family who had been staying in the gym, said French police.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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