Brussels suspect shot after ′small explosion′ in main station | News | DW | 21.06.2017
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Europe

Brussels suspect shot after 'small explosion' in main station

Following what prosecutors called a "terror attack" at Brussels' main train station, Belgian officials have said they identified the man allegedly responsible for the explosion. The suspect was the only casualty.

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Brussels suspect dies after 'terror' blast

Authorities said on Wednesday that they determined the identity of the suspected terrorist thought to have set off a small explosion at Brussels' main train station but would not immediately release his name, the Interior Ministry said. Investigators are working to establish further information on the suspect's background.

"The terrorist's identity is known. We have been able to identify him," Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTBF radio television on Wednesday without giving further details.

Following the explosion on Tuesday, the suspect was shot dead by soldiers patrolling the station.

The train station reopened Wednesday morning, according to DW's Max Hofmann in Brussels.

Read more: Madrid to Manchester to London: A chronology of terror in Europe

Authorities later said that there were no other casualties in the incident.

Investigators are treating the incident as a "terrorist attack," said Erik Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office.

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Person 'neutralized' at central station: DW's Georg Matthes from Brussels

The attack took place around 9 p.m. local time (1900 UTC) when the historic city center was packed with tourists and locals. Police evacuated the station, Gare Centrale, as well as the nearby Grand Place. Belgian media reported that a number of other public places in the Belgian capital had also been cleared.

Prime Minister Charles Michel and his interior minister were monitoring developments from the national crisis center.

"Thanks to our soldiers, security forces and SNCB (rail company) personnel for their professionalism and their courage," Michel later wrote on Twitter.

Police wrote on Twitter that the situation was under control and urged the public to follow instructions. Gare Centrale and its surrounding roads remained closed through the night and into Wednesday.

'Wasn't exactly a big explosion'

National newspaper La Libre Belgique quoted the Brussels prosecutor's office as saying the suspect was wearing a backpack and an explosive belt. 

A witness in the train station told Agence France Presse a man "cried 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great), and ... blew up a trolley." 

Belgian media reported that the assailant is believed to have used a nail bomb, which failed to detonate completely. 

Belgien Explosion am Zentral-Bahnhof in Brüssel (Reuters/Twitter/@remybonnaffe)

Pictures reported to be of the explosion in Brussels' central station were widely circulated around the social media.

"I was behind a wall when it exploded," the witness, railway sorting agent Nicolas Van Herrewegen, said. "I went down and alerted my colleagues to evacuate everyone. He (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."

Brussels has been on high alert since twin suicide bombings killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and airport in March 2016. The bombings were carried out by the same extremist cell behind the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Since then, combat troops have been stationed at major public buildings and landmarks around Brussels. The Belgian capital is home to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union.

nm/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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