Belgium’s prosecutor says the man behind a bombing at Brussels central station may have supported the “Islamic State” extremist group. Investigators also found materials used to make explosives in the 36-year-old’s home.
Police who raided the suspect’s home found “possible chemical substances and materials were found that could serve to make explosives,” Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said Wednesday.
The Moroccan national, identified by the initials O.Z., was shot dead by a soldier at Brussels main train station on Tuesday after trying to detonate a nail bomb.
“The preliminary results of the search carried out in the residence of the suspect O.Z. in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, showed that he probably made the bomb there,” Van Der Sypt said in a statement.
Investigators said they also found indications that the suspect had “sympathies for the terrorist organization IS.”
Brussels on alert
Belgian will keep its current terror alert level at three on a scale of four, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, added security forces will be deployed across the country. Authorities also said that no events would be canceled, but warned those planning to attend not to carry backpacks with them.
Security will be particularly beefed up at the 50,000-seat King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, where British rock band Coldplay is scheduled perform later on Wednesday.
Michel chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday morning, after which he reported that authorities have no information suggesting further attacks are imminent.
Following the meeting, he tweeted: “We will not let ourselves be intimidated by terrorism. We will always defend our values of liberty and democracy.”
Brussels central station remained shut overnight, re-opening at around 8 a.m. local time (0600 UTC) on Wednesday.
Brussels has been on high alert since a group of suicide bombers carried out attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station in March last year, killing 32 people.
Attacker details coming to light
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 last year.
Belgian authorities have carried out a host raids in the area over the past year.
Assailant used nail bomb in attack
Authorities revealed that the attacker detonated a suitcase containing nails and gas bottles. The passenger approached a group of around passengers at the station before grabbing his suitcase and causing a “partial explosion,” Van Der Sypt said.
“Fortunately nobody was hurt,” he added. “It could have been much worse. It is clear that he wanted to cause more damage than he did.”
The man left his luggage before it exploded a second time. He then charged at a soldier at the scene while screaming “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). The soldier opened fire, killing the suspect.
Earlier reports had claimed that the attacker had worn an explosive belt, although those claims were dismissed.
dm/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)