Belgian authorities neutralize suspected suicide bomber after botched ‘terrorist attack’
Armed policemen and soldiers in the Belgian capital quickly moved to evacuate passengers from Gare Centrale and nearby surroundings during the busy rush hour period after a “small explosion” resounded through the country’s main train hub at about 20:30 local time. Railway traffic was immediately suspended.
Witnesses at the scene reported seeing a man in his thirties detonate an explosive device after allegedly shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. While authorities have yet to give a full account of the incident, Belgian media reports indicate that the explosion heard by bystanders would just have been the detonator of the device that failed to fully detonate.
Twee luide ontploffingen in Brussel Cebtraal. Voor mijn neus. Dan snelle knallen na elkaar. pic.twitter.com/FDqVAjgGYg— Rémy Bonnaffé (@remybonnaffe) June 20, 2017
Authorities immediately rushed to the scene and engaged the suspect who is yet to be named.
“The suspect has been neutralized by the military that were present at the scene immediately after the explosion,” Federal prosecutor spokesman, Eric Van Der Sypt told reporters, adding, that “this is considered as a terrorist attack.”
Van Der Sypt noted that there were no other casualties besides the attacker who was confirmed dead shortly after midnight.
The situation was “under control” about an hour after the incident, the federal crisis center said in a tweet. However, the body of the assailant remained at the scene for hours as authorities combed the area.
A van belonging to the assailant was discovered in the vicinity while the Bomb Squad (DOVO) carried out a “controlled detonation” of the explosive belt device allegedly found on the attacker.
As the investigation continues, the country’s terror alert is set to remain at level 3, the second highest classification. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel thanked the military and security personnel for their courage and professionalism and confirmed there will be a meeting of the National Security Council Wednesday morning at 9am local time.