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Moroccan with nail-filled briefcase shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ ran towards passengers

The 36-year-old Moroccan man suspected of setting off an explosion at Brussels Central station late Tuesday was carrying a suitcase filled with nails and gas bottles to intensify his terrorist act, after which he ran towards passengers at a train station, Belgian federal prosecutors said.

No one was killed or injured by the blast, described by authorities on Wednesday as a partial explosion detonated by the suspect near a group of underground passengers at 8:44 pm (1844 GMT).

The train station was evacuated, and the suspected bomber was shot dead by a soldier on the scene.

The suspect had first attracted the attention of a soldier present at the station when he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) as he was running towards them.

Suicide bombers

Europe has been rocked by several terrorist attacks over the past three years, including coordinated bombings and gunfire in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people and a vehicle attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people.

Three attacks have occurred in the British cities of London and Manchester in the past three months alone.

The Belgian capital itself was hit last March, when coordinated suicide attacks at Brussels airport and inside a metro station left 35 people dead.

Belgian authorities said they had searched the suspect’s home in Molenbeek, the much-maligned western Brussels neighbourhood where several perpetrators in Paris and Brussels attacks were known to have lived.

Brussels Central Station reopened early Wednesday, according to Belgian railway company SNCB.

The Belgian authorities had no indication of any imminent attacks, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said after a meeting of the National Security Council Wednesday morning.

Michel said additional measures would be taken for big events, such as concerts, but was adamant that Belgium would not be intimidated.

Meanwhile, local police at the Belgian city of Namur “neutralized” a suspicious suitcase in front of the city’s train station, Namur police said on Twitter.

A police operation was also under way in the centre of the Belgian city of Antwerp, after two men with toy guns were seen on a rooftop downtown.

The local police said the weapons were almost indistinguishable from real ones, and called on citizens to be cautious when displaying them in public.

Antwerp is Belgium’s second-largest city.

 


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