Friday 30 September 2016

Five people arrested after 'organised crime' attackers blow up Brussels police crime lab after ramming through gates

Robert-Jan Bartunek;

Published 29/08/2016 | 08:13

Damage can be seen at the building of the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Belgian media reported an explosion rocked the building in the early hours of Monday, the cause was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Damage can be seen at the building of the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Belgian media reported an explosion rocked the building in the early hours of Monday, the cause was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police and investigators work at the scene of an explosion at the building of the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Belgian media reported an explosion rocked the building in the early hours of Monday, the cause was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Damage can be seen at the building of the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Belgian media reported an explosion rocked the building in the early hours of Monday, the cause was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police seal off an area around the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Belgian media reported an explosion rocked the building in the early hours of Monday, the cause was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Belgium's criminal forensics laboratory was set alight in the early hours of Monday in an attack that prosecutors said was more likely linked to organised crime than terrorism.

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Five people were detained near the National Institute of Criminology in Brussels and are being questioned over the fire which caused an explosion but no casualties.

A bomb exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of Brussels this morning
A bomb exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of Brussels this morning

"It was arson, deliberate arson, at the laboratory of the federal police," prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said.

"With a fire you get explosions, but it's not that explosives were thrown inside or installed."

When asked whether the attack could be terrorism she said: "It is a path we are looking down. But certainly not the first one we are thinking about.

"We are thinking more of deliberate arson by organised crime. We have no indications that it was terrorism."

Belgium has been on high alert since Islamist attacks over the past year.

Several attackers entered the site of the institute by car around 2 a.m. and went into the wing of the building where the laboratories are located, prosecutors said.

More details about how the fire was started were not yet known as the building was still too dangerous to enter.

The institute is linked to the Belgian ministry of justice and carries out forensic investigations in criminal cases, its director said.

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