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Terror suspect shot dead at Brussels railway station

BRUSSELS, June 21, 2017

A suspected terrorist was shot dead by soldiers in one of Brussels’ main railway stations on Tuesday night after what police described as a small explosion, said media reports.

The blast in Belgium came a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a suspected Islamist on a terror watchlist rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris, reported AFP.

Broadcaster VTM quoted Interior Minister Jan Jambon as saying investigators had identified the man but were not releasing his name.

Several media outlets ran unsourced reports saying the dead man was 37 and came from Molenbeek, the inner city borough with a big Moroccan population which was home to some of the figures in Islamic State attacks on Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.

He indicated that police had carried out searches once the attacker's identity was known.

Initial reports on Tuesday said the blast at Central Station could have come from an explosive belt, but subsequent accounts pointed to the blast coming from a suitcase. Police quickly announced they had the situation under control, reported The Guardian.

“This is considered as a terrorist attack,” the federal prosecutor’s office spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt was quoted as saying in the report.

“The suspect has been neutralised by the military that were present at the scene immediately after the explosion,” he said. “He is dead,” he added.

Brussels has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck the Zavantem Airport and Maalbeek metro station near the EU headquarters in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more, reported AFP.

Daesh claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same Brussels-based cell behind the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, stated the report.

Jambon said the attack on Tuesday evening could have been much worse because the "big explosion did not happen," adding more details about the device would be released shortly.

Officers believe the man was wearing an explosive belt and a witness at Brussels Central station reportedly heard the man call out “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” in Arabic – before the blast, said The Guardian.

There were no other casualties in the incident.

Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a railway sorting agent who was in the station as the incident unfolded, said: “I went down to the mezzanine level. Someone was shouting. Then he cried: ‘Allahu Akbar’ and he blew up a trolley.

“I was behind a wall when it exploded. I went down and alerted my colleagues to evacuate everyone. [The suspect] was still around but after that, we didn’t see him.

“It wasn’t exactly a big explosion but the impact was pretty big. People were running away.”

According to the Belgian newspaper La Libre, the man detonated a device after he attracted the attention of soldiers who were patrolling the station.

After the incident, which took place at about 8.30pm on Tuesday, the station and the nearby historic downtown area, including the Grand Place, were partly evacuated as police set up a security cordon.




Tags: dead | terror suspect | Brussels station |

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