Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Brussels train station blast being treated as terror attack

Published:Wednesday | June 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Belgian police stand in front of a police cordon as people are evacuated at the Grand Place square near Central Station in Brussels after a reported explosion yesterday.

BRUSSELS (AP):

Belgian authorities said they foiled a "terror attack" yesterday when soldiers shot a suspect after a small explosion at a busy Brussels train station that continued a week of attacks in the capitals of Europe.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers "neutralized" a suspect at the Central Station immediately after the explosion there last night and "we do not know if the man is still alive or that he is dead."

"This incident is considered as a terrorist attack," Van der Sypt said.

Belgium's Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, said based on initial information it did not see a need to raise the country's terror threat to the highest level and kept it at the second-highest level.

A bomb squad performed a controlled explosion of a bomb belt the suspect had at the Central Station, Belgian broadcaster VTM television reported. Authorities set up a wide perimeter around the station, located near the city's famed Grand Place square.

Van der Sypt refused to comment on the VTM report. He said no one else was injured besides the suspect and the damage from the explosion was limited. The attack, which took place during a rare heatwave in Belgium, came around 8.30 p.m., well after the evening rush hour had dissipated.

Nicolas Van Herreweghen, who works for Belgium's national rail company, said the male suspect was very agitated, yelling about jihadists and then "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before blowing up something on a baggage trolley.

He said the man appeared to be 30 to 35 years of age.

The government agency that owns Belgium's railways was warned by a train driver who saw people running across the rail lines inside the station, spokesman Arnaud Reymann told broadcaster RTL.