Brussels Central Station hit by blast, police say

Belgian troops ‘neutralised’ a suspected suicide bomber at the station, officials say

 

Belgian troops patrolling Brussels Central Station “neutralised” a suspected suicide bomber after a small explosion on Tuesday, officials said, adding that there were no other casualties and the situation was under control.

A Reuters correspondent at the scene a little over an hour after the incident - in which the suspect detonated a small explosion - said the area was quiet, with police manning a cordon and a few bystanders calmly watching security forces at work.

Local media quoted officials offering somewhat differing accounts of what happened.

A police spokesman said it was still unclear if the suspect had died, after other officials had described him as having been killed.

A public prosecutor, quoted by DH newspaper, said they were investigating whether it was a terrorist incident.

“An individual carrying a rucksack and an explosive belt in Central Station has been shot dead,” DH quoted the prosecutor as saying.

“He seems to have set off his device when the soldiers started paying attention to him.”

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel urged people via Twitter to follow instructions from the authorities.

Evacuation

The station and the adjacent downtown area, including the baroque Grand Palace city square, were packed with tourists and locals on a hot summer evening, when they were evacuated as police set up a security cordon, witnesses told Belgian media.

Het Laatste Nieuws tabloid newspaper quoted what it said were witnesses saying a man shouted “Allahu Akbar” before there was a small explosion.

Soldiers ran toward the spot, saw wires protruding from the man’s clothes, and shot him. That account could not be independently confirmed.

VRT public television said there had been a bomb on a luggage trolley, but cited no source.

The city has been on high alert for more than 18 months since Brussels-based Islamic State militants carried out attacks in Paris that killed 130 people there in November 2015 and later bombed Brussels airport and the city’s metro in March last year.

A police spokesman said: “There was an accident at Central Station. There was an explosion around a person. That person was neutralised by the soldiers that were on the scene.

“At the moment, the police are in numbers at the station and everything is under control.”

Belgian Rail said traffic had been halted at Brussels Central Station.

Reuters