The central train station in Brussels was evacuated Tuesday night after a man in a suicide vest was “neutralized” by police, Belgian media reports.
Belgian authorities said they foiled a “terror attack” Tuesday 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 on Tuesday night.
“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.
Both incoming and outbound trains were suspended at the station.
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 was “neutralized” and seriously injured at station level -1. He died shortly afterwards. He allegedly triggered his arrest at the moment when the soldiers’ attention was “on him.” No one else was injured.
According to local media, the suspect came from Molenbeek and is called Osama. The information was confirmed from a legal source. He was not known for acts of terrorism, Belga agency said, but his name appeared in police database, according to De Tijd. The Brussels prosecutor’s office was not in a position to confirm this on Wednesday morning.
The suspect had planned to blow up a large bomb
The worst was likely to have been avoided Tuesday night at the Brussels-Central railway station, Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Wednesday, on the air of La Première, evoking the explosive discovered. The minister did not give more information on the nature of the explosive and referred to the press conference that will be held by the federal prosecutor’s office this Wednesday at 11 am on this subject.
The station remains closed to the public on Wednesday morning.