Brussels Attack: Belgian troops shoot 'terrorist' dead after bomb blast in train station
- A small took place at Brussels Central Station
- Media reports that the man was wearing an explosive vest
- Irish Managing director describes how restaurant went into 'lockdown'
Belgian troops shot dead a suspected "terrorist" bomber in Brussels Central Station on Tuesday but there were no other casualties and the situation was brought under control after people were evacuated, officials said.
Spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said the man had been lying still since soldiers shot him on Tuesday night.
She said medics were unable to attend to him for several hours out of fear he could be carrying explosives.
Ms Van Wymersch said authorities could only confirm his death once a bomb squad had finished its work.
Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt says soldiers "neutralised" a suspect at Central Station immediately after a small explosion.
He said the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack.
It appeared no one else was injured and the damage from the explosion was limited, Ms Van Wymersch said.
Police had quickly evacuated the station and surrounding areas of historic downtown Brussels after the incident around 8:30 pm . The streets had been busy with tourists and locals enjoying a hot evening but were soon largely deserted and calm. Rail traffic was largely suspended.
Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a station employee, told public broadcaster RTBF that he saw a man shouting in a lower level of the 1930s station, which serves lines running under the city centre. He then appeared to yell "Allahu Akbar" in Arabic and to detonate something on a luggage trolley. People standing within three metres of the trolley were unhurt, Herrewegen said.
As Prime Minister Charles Michel consulted with his security advisers, the national alert level was maintained at its second highest level.
The Belgian capital, home to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State cell launched an attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Associates of those attackers, four months later, killed 32 people in their home city, including with bombs loaded on trolleys at Brussels Airport.
Combat troops have been a fixture at transport hubs and in the main public areas since the Paris attacks. A series of further attacks in neighbouring France and Germany in the past year, as well as recent bloodshed in London and Manchester, have added to anxiety.
Stationmaster Jean-Michel Michel was quoted by DH newspaper saying: "We heard the explosion. My colleague thought it was a bomb. The explosion was on the mezzanine level. The man went down to platforms 3 and 4. He said 'Allahu Akbar'...
"I would put him at about 35 years old."
Prosecutor Van Der Sypt said: "At about 8.30 p.m. there was an explosion in the Central Station, relatively small in size.
"The suspected perpetrator was neutralised by the soldiers present. We cannot confirm if the man is still alive or dead. There were no further victims. We consider this a terrorist attack."
Ronan Flood, Managing Director at Dublin based Advantage Group, wrote on Twitter that he was in a restaurant in the Royal Galleries - 500m from Gare Central when the incident took place.
"We went into lockdown under direction of armed security guard."
Writing on Twitter he added: "Police now all over this like a rash but v impressed with private security guard with k9, he did the business securing the public."
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs issued advice shortly after the incident on Twitter.
#Belgium incident at Brussels Central Station. Be vigilant, avoid immediate area and follow advice of local security authorities— DFATravelWise (@dfatravelwise) June 20, 2017
With additional reporting by Reuters and PA