Soldiers shot dead a male suspect after a small explosion at the central Brussels train station, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor’s office said early Wednesday morning.
Nobody else seemed to be injured and the damage was limited, Brussels prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch told VRT network. Photos posted on social media showed a small fire in the station.
Van Wymersch said the man had been lying still since soldiers shot him Tuesday night and says medics couldn’t attend to him for several hours out of fear he could be carrying explosives.
Authorities could only confirm his death once a bomb squad had finished its work, Van Wymersch added.
Earlier on Tuesday the Belgian federal prosecutor declared that they foiled a “terror attack.”
Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers “neutralized” a suspect and added that “this incident is considered as a terrorist attack.”
National newspaper La Libre Belgique quoted the Brussels prosecutor’s office as saying the suspect was wearing a backpack and an explosive belt. Nicolas Van Herreweghen, who works for Belgium’s national rail company, said the male suspect was very agitated, yelling about jihadists and then “Allahu akbar,” meaning “God is great” in Arabic, before blowing something up on a baggage cart.
He said the suspect appeared to be 30 to 35 years old.
Grand Place, a major tourist site in the Belgian capital, was evacuated along with the station about 200 meters — 656 feet away — the AP reports. They asked the public to follow police instructions.
Belgium’s Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, said “soldiers had to neutralize an individual,” according to a tweet. Based on initial information it doesn’t see a need to raise the terror threat in the country to the highest level.
Brussels police said via Twitter that there was “an incident with an individual at the station. The situation is under control.”
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.
Jo Buggenhout, a journalist with VTM News, spoke with CBSN to describe the scene and response. He said the public is used to seeing soldiers at the train station.
“It’s one of three train stations in Brussels, in the capital, which is really in the heart of the city,” Buggenhout said. “It’s an old station, not that big… and only has one entrance and they can guard it very closely.”
“You always have police… and always have at least two or three heavily armed soldiers at the entrance,” he added.
Rail company spokeswoman Elisa Roux said trains were diverted from the station and buses were sent to take passengers away from the area.
Officials have been on high alert ever since a March 22 attack last year. Suicide bombers killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and at an airport.
Recently, there have been incidents involving extremists in Paris and London, including the attack by a van driver who struck down worshippers outside a London mosque.