Belgian police intercepted a car that was speeding toward a busy shopping area and refused to stop, authorities said Thursday.
The car, registered in France, was driving “at a very high speed” in central Antwerp, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said.
French President Francois Hollande called the incident “an attempted terrorist attack.”
“At different times, pedestrians were put at risk,” the prosecutor’s office said. “When soldiers attempted to intercept the vehicle, it fled.”
Authorities eventually managed to stop the 39-year-old French driver and detained him.
Anouk Leemans saw police make the arrest.
“The police chased the man and arrested him calmly,” she told CNN via the messaging app WhatsApp. “A crowd quickly gathered but the police were keeping everyone calm.”
Leemans said authorities took photos inside and around the car after a bomb robot searched it.
Another witness shot video of authorities taking away the suspect’s vehicle.
Knives and a pellet-style gun were found in the car, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official said.
According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office, a riot gun as well as “a can containing a product still undetermined” were found in the vehicle.
Investigators were looking into any links the man may have had to Islamist extremism but have not yet conclusively determined such ties, the counterterrorism official said.
“He was looking to kill people and to cause something dramatic,” Hollande said in a statement.
The incident comes one day after an attack in London — which started with a driver plowing into people with a vehicle — killed three people.
Wednesday also marked the first anniversary of the Brussels bombings — the deadliest terror attack in Belgian history.
A series of blasts rocked the Belgian capital’s airport and a metro station, killing 32 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for that coordinated attack.