BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – An Orthodox Jew died Thursday after being shot in the head outside his home in one of Western Europe’s most visible Jewish communities, the target of several recent attacks.

The victim was identified by rescue services as Moshe Naeh, 24, a Briton working as a secretary to a local rabbi.

Police said he was shot as he unloaded his car about 2 a.m. He slumped onto the road and was discovered by passers-by who initially thought he was a traffic victim. Naeh was brought to an Antwerp hospital, where he died some 14 hours later.

Police, however, shifted their patrols to pass more often through the Jewish neighborhood hugging Antwerp Central Station. There had already been increased security since June, when a 16-year-old Jewish student nearly died after being stabbed outside his school. Days later, a 43-year-old Jewish man was beaten unconscious.

The shooting added to unease among the 17,000-strong Jewish community. “There is a sense of shock,” said Louis Davids, chief editor of the Belgian Israeli Weekly. “We still don’t know the cause of the attack.”

However, he said a robbery was unlikely since the victim still had money in his pocket, and was very recognizable as an orthodox Jew with the long beard and sidelocks worn by many of the men in the area.

“Worries had already increased since June,” he said. “We will wait and see.”

Jewish groups say they are beset by a rising tide of anti-Semitic crimes in Europe since 2000, when tensions between Israelis and Palestinians worsened in the Middle East.

Antwerp, Belgium’s second city and a major seaport, is home to a large immigrant population, with some 10 percent of its 500,000 inhabitants of North African descent.

Belgium was scene of murderous attacks on Jews in the 1980s that were blamed on Palestinian groups. Five people died and more than 100 were wounded in bombings, grenade attacks and shootings from 1981 to 1989.

AP-ES-11-18-04 1900EST


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