image copyrightReutersimage captionThe army had joined the police in the manhunt for the shooting instructor

The body of a Belgian soldier with far-right views who went missing in mid-May after taking weapons from a military base has been found, officials say.

Jurgen Conings, a 46-year-old shooting instructor, was found dead in a wooded area near the Dutch border.

Conings, who was on a watch-list for suspected extremists, had issued threats, including against the expert who led Belgium's response to Covid-19.

Hundreds of officers had been deployed in the month-long manhunt.

Prosecutors say the initial indications are that Conings, who disappeared on 17 May, shot himself. The body was found in the Hoge Kempen National Park on Sunday.

Last month, his car was found containing four anti-tank rocket-launchers and ammunition. Reports said the man had left letters before his disappearance saying he "could no longer live in a society where politicians and virologists have taken everything away from us".

The case raised questions about why a known far-right sympathiser was allowed access to military weapons, as he was among at least 30 soldiers who were being monitored by Belgium's threat analysis unit.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionSoldiers had searched areas of the Hoge Kempen National Park, where the body was found

According to local media, the body was found by accident by the mayor of the town of Maaseik after he felt a strong odour while cycling near the area where the soldier's car had been found.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst, who led the country's public health response to the pandemic, and his family had to be taken to a safe place after the man went missing.

"It's especially a relief for my son that he has been found," Mr Van Ranst told De Morgen newspaper. "I've been [in the safe house] for a little over a month now. And it's my birthday today, a birthday alone. Anyway, I hope to return to normal life soon."

In a tweet, he added: "My thoughts go out to the relatives and children of Jurgen Conings. For them this is very sad news, because they lose a father, a relative or a friend."