Brussels Central station: Blast suspect shot dead

Troops shoot dead a man suspected of causing a small explosion at train station, in what police call 'terrorist attack'

    Belgian troops take up position close to the train station in Brussels [Francois Lenoir/Reuters]
    Belgian troops take up position close to the train station in Brussels [Francois Lenoir/Reuters]

    Belgian police say a man suspected of setting off a small explosion at the central train station in the capital, Brussels, has died after being shot by soldiers.

    There were no other casualties and the situation was under control, police said on Tuesday.

    Prosecutors said the suspect was carrying a backpack and an explosive belt before he was shot by one of the routine military patrols active in Brussels since attacks more than a year ago.

    Only hours later, after bomb disposal teams had cleared the area, was the man confirmed dead. There was no information on his identity.

    "We consider this a terrorist attack," prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt told reporters by the nearby Grand Place.

    A policeman stands guard over a deserted street near Central Station [Francois Lenoir/Reuters]

    Police had cleared streets around Brussels' landmark Renaissance town square after the blast, which occurred around 8:30pm (18:30 GMT) as tourists and locals were enjoying a hot summer's night.

    "There is a very heavily armed police and military presence," Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from near the Central Station, said.

    "The whole area around here is very much on lockdown."

    High alert

    Barker said the incident brought memories of two attacks in March 2016 when suicide bombers struck the metro system and an airport in the city, killing 32 people and wounding hundreds more.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed those attacks, which were carried out by the same cell behind the November 2016 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

    Soldiers have been stationed at railway stations, government buildings and European Union institutions in Brussels since the aftermath of the Paris attacks when a link to Belgium was first established.

    "The Belgian capital has been on a heightened state of alert, meaning that there are now roughly about 10,000 heavily armed soldiers on the streets of Brussels to precisely make sure that a situation like this doesn't happen anytime soon," Barker said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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