Brussels attacker may have supported Islamic State - prosecutors

Police patrol outside Central Station in Brussels on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

Belgium's federal prosecutor's office says that the attacker who tried to set off a nail bomb at Brussels Central Station sympathized with the Islamic State group.

Prosecutor's spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch confirmed his death and said no other explosives were found on his body.

The man then returned to the hall where he left the suitcase and rushed at a soldier patrolling the station, shouting "Allahu akbar".

Like Zariouh, numerous terrorists in Europe have had a Moroccan background, including all of the 2016 Brussels attackers, six of the Paris attackers, and an Isis supporter who killed a French police officer and his wife.

Witness Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a rail worker, told Reuters: "He was talking about the jihadists and all that and then at some point he shouted: "Allahu akbar" and blew up the little suitcase he had next to him".

Brussels central station remained shut overnight, re-opening at around 8 a.m. local time (0600 UTC) on Wednesday. Belgian authorities said they foiled a "terror attack" Tuesday when soldiers shot and killed a suspect after a small explosion at a busy Brussels train station that continued a week of attacks in the capitals of Europe.

Belgian media reported that the assailant lived in the largely immigrant Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, a home and transit point for a number jihadis who carried out terror attacks in Brussels and Paris a year ago.

The Brussels attacker was a 36-year-old Moroccan national not known to authorities for being involved in terror activities, federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters. He said that "it was clear he wanted to cause much more damage than what happened".

"Meanwhile, the bag exploded a second time more violently".

The suspect was not wearing a suicide belt, as some Belgian media had reported, Van Der Sypt said.

"We have avoided an attack that could have been a great deal worse", the Prime Minister said.

The man was shot by soldiers after detonating a small device there late Tuesday.

Belgian will keep its current terror alert level at three on a scale of four, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Wednesday.

Security was high around Belgian railway stations amid preparations for a Coldplay concert at the 50,000-seat King Baudouin Stadium.

Early analysis of what remains of the device suggests the explosive did not detonate but simply burned, the official said. He lay still for several hours while a bomb squad checked whether he was carrying more explosives and later died. There was a partial explosion and the suitcase caught fire, but nobody was hurt.

  • Leroy Wright