An individual was killed Tuesday night by Belgian soldiers after the explosion of his luggage in the Brussels-Central station, an act considered a “terrorist attack” that did not injure, at a time when several European countries Are the target of jihadist attacks.
“The incident is considered a terrorist attack,” said the Belgian federal prosecutor, Eric Van Der Sypt, in a brief briefing near the site of the attack.
According to one witness, the author shouted Allah Akbar (Allah is Great) just before the explosion, which caused a mighty breath, according to the police.
“The soldiers neutralized him with shots” at about 8:50 pm (Quebec time), said a Belgian police spokesman, Peter De Waele. Mr. Van Der Sypt said he could not “confirm whether the author is dead or alive”.
At around 11 pm (5 pm Quebec time), the suspect was still on the ground, motionless. The demining department verified the possible presence of explosives on him, according to information sent by the federal prosecutor’s office to the Belga agency.
The station was closed by the police and evacuated, which caused a “real panic”, according to a spokesman for Infrabel, the manager of the Belgian rail network.
“People were crossing paths,” he added. All railway traffic was interrupted.
No more trains were circulating in the Belgian capital and bus lines were diverted from the city center. The metro was free to help people go home.
The “small explosion”, according to the terms used by the authorities, seems to have come from a suitcase, according to a witness. Photos of witnesses on the social networks showed a sheaf of fire several meters in the corridors of the station, apparently little frequented.
“At the mezzanine, someone shouted. I did not pay attention. Then he cried Allah Akbar . And there he exploded the trolley, “said Nicolas Van Herrewegen, direct witness of the scene, sorting agent of the Belgian National Railway Company (SNCB).
“It was not really a big explosion but the impact was not bad. Around two, three meters people ran away, “testified the marshalling officer.
Situation under control
The situation was under control in the station, which is located in the center of Brussels, a few hundred meters from the famous Grand-Place, said the Belgian crisis center on Twitter. Some 60,000 passengers take the train every day at the Brussels-Central station, one of the largest in Belgium.
Élisa Roux, spokesman of the SNCB, the Belgian railway company, estimated that “a hundred people were evacuated” from the station following the explosion.
“As soon as we heard the blast, a security perimeter was put in place,” she said. “There were people crying, some people shouting. They were of course a bit shocked. ”
All the streets around were blocked by numerous police and military vehicles, an AFP journalist said. Policemen in weapons with a bullet-proof vest were stationed.
This occurs in the context of the multiplication of jihadist terrorist attacks in Europe in recent months, particularly in the United Kingdom and France.
On Monday afternoon, a man fired for his belonging to the “radical Islamist movement” tried to crash his car with a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a few hundred meters from the place where a policeman had Was killed by a jihadist two months ago. The man died in the accident he caused.
Brussels was hit on 22 March 2016 by attacks claimed by the Islamic State organization. Jihadists were detonated in the subway and at Brussels airport, killing 32 people.
The investigation showed that they belonged to the same cell as that which hit Paris on 13 November 2015, causing 130 deaths.