Shoot-out and pile-up after French police chase suspected people smugglers

The pursuit began on a main road in Belgium and ended in France

french, chase, france, police, people smugglers, injuries, death, motorcyclist

File photo. Image: Bob Edme / AP/Press Association Images

A motorway chase involving suspected people smugglers has ended in three crashes, shootings, a pile-up and one person killed, reports say.

The 140mph pursuit, which began on a main road in Belgium and ended across the French border near Dunkirk, left a motorcyclist dead and seven other people injured - four seriously.

The chase reportedly began early this morning when a lorry driver found 17 immigrants in his parked vehicle and was threatened with a knife.

When Belgian police intervened, four Iraqi nationals, who were suspected of being people smugglers, sped away in a UK-registered Audi A4 chased by officers.

They were ordered to stop by police who then shot at the vehicle, firing around a dozen bullets on the road between Nieupoort and Oostduinkeke in Belgium.

Two passengers in the car were hit - one in the shoulder and the other in the abdomen.

The vehicle reportedly became so badly damaged that it was travelling on its wheel rims.

Further up the same road, a separate crash had earlier taken place, where emergency services including firefighters were at the scene.

They had to dive out of the way of the high-speed Audi, which then lost control and smashed into a lorry on the A16.

This led to a pile-up of several vehicles including cars that tried to swerve out of the way.

Meanwhile, a motorcyclist died in a third crash when it tried to pass the traffic queue and then collided with a lorry.

The road was closed immediately.

It has since re-opened but there were tailbacks of about 10 miles.