Brussels: Central Station attacker was Moroccan national, say authorities

Elias Hubbard
June 24, 2017

"He was identified as O.Z, born on January 20, 1981, he was Moroccan, he was not implicated in terrorism-related activities", Eric Van der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor, said.

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel is 'following the situation very closely from the crisis centre, ' according to his spokesman Frederic Cauderlier.

But he said that while security would be stepped up, the country's terror alert level would be kept stable.

"If we do that, it would be fulfilling the aim of the terrorists".

The French capital was jolted again on Monday when a man with an Islamist background died after ramming his vehicle into a police van on the Avenue des Champs-Élysée.

Authorities later said that there were no other casualties in the incident.

On 22 March of previous year, three suicide bombers mounted twin attacks on the city's Zaventem airport and Maelbeek underground station. Still unsure whether it was an attack, he took time to take a photo but dashed off when he heard a second blast and shots. The man then left his luggage burning and went down to the platform in pursuit of a station master. His suitcase exploded again. "This bag contained nails and gas bottles", he added.

The soldier opened fire, hitting the man several times and killing him on the spot.

The suspect was not wearing an explosives-laden belt, Van der Sypt said, contrary to an initial eyewitness account from a railway official. Among them: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the 2015 Paris attacks, the Abdeslam brothers, who were also involved in the assaults, as well as Mohamed Abrini, who participated in the 2016 Brussels attacks.

The center that monitors security threats in Belgium says the available information so far doesn't yet merit going to the highest possible terror alert level.

Michel said more security measures would be put in place for large public events like the Coldplay concert at the King Baudouin stadium later Wednesday.

Brussels' Central Station reopened early Wednesday following a blast and an evacuation the night before, according to Belgian railway company SNCB.

On Tuesday, the Belgian military neutralized the man, who carried out a small explosion at the central train station of Brussels.

"Then he cried "Allahu Akbar" and he blew up a wheeled suitcase", he told AFP news agency.

Jambon said the attack Tuesday evening could have been much worse because the "big explosion did not happen", adding more details about the device would be released shortly.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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