Brussels train station blast being treated as terror attack

An explosion rocked the central train station in Brussels yesterday evening (20 June) and a man was shot by police during the incident, prosecutors told Belgian media.

A bomb squad performed a controlled explosion of a bomb belt and they were checking to see if there were more hazards, according to local reports.

A witness who was inside Brussels Central Station during the incident said he heard two explosions and then heard someone yell "Allahu Akbar" twice followed by heavy gunfire.

Jambon indicated that police had carried out searches given the attacker's identity was now known.

The suspect was not wearing a suicide belt, but was heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" ('God is great' in Arabic) before being shot dead by soldiers, the prosecutor said. However, Brussels has remained on high alert since 32 people were killed in three coordinated suicide bombings in March 2016.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers "neutralized" a suspect at the Central Station immediately after a small explosion there on Tuesday night and "we do not know if the man is still alive or that he is dead". On Monday, an armed man was killed in Paris after he rammed a auto loaded with weapons and explosives into a police convoy on the Champs-Élysées.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and at an airport in March previous year.

Update 8.07am: Central Station in Brussels is reopening to passengers this morning, with a heavy police presence, after last night's terror attack.

Witnesses in the station said it was crowded when the explosion occurred.

Crying rail passengers fled the station after the explosion, with memories still fresh of last year's metro and airport suicide attacks in the city which hosts the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters.

"He was not known to the authorities for any terrorism connection", Van Der Sypt said, declining to give the man's full name while the investigation continues. "People just took off", - rail worker Nicolas Van Herrewegen was in the platform area. Images posted on social media showed a small fire on the floor of a wide passageway that leads down to trains.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry said there is no indication of other incidents but the threat level remains at 3, which warns of a "possible and likely threat". "People were running away".

Belgium's Crisis Center said Wednesday that it sees no need to raise the national security alert level, which has been on its second-highest rung for more than a year.

He described the man as quite dark and with short hair and said he was wearing a white shirt and black jeans.

Since then, combat troops have been stationed at major public buildings and landmarks around Brussels.

The country's law enforcement agencies and intelligence services came under intense scrutiny amid claims that a series of leads were missed after the Paris attacks that could have led to the Brussels bombers.

  • Leroy Wright