Accessibility links

Belgian Authorities: Brussels Attacker 'Had Sympathies' for Islamic State

  • VOA News

A Belgian Army soldier patrols inside Central Station in Brussels, June 21, 2017.

Belgian authorities say the man killed Tuesday during a foiled bomb attack at a Brussels train station may have supported the Islamic State militant group and that materials that can be used to make explosives were found at his home.

Federal prosecutor's office spokesman Eric Van der Sypt told reporters Wednesday the suspect was a 36-year-old Moroccan native who was identified only by the initials O.Z., and said that investigators had searched the man's home overnight.

The suspect had not been previously linked to terrorism but Van der Sypt said investigators found indications he "had sympathies for the terrorist organization IS."

Chemicals and other materials that can be used to make explosives were found in his home, where Van der Sypt said the suspect "probably made the bomb."

The attack unfolded at Brussels Central Station where authorities say the man approached a group of passengers, shouted and set off a partial explosion involving his suitcase. They say he then went down to a platform and ran after a station master at which point the bag, which contained nails and gas canisters meant to hurt people, exploded more violently.

A soldier confronted the man and shot him several times, and he died on the spot. Van der Sypt said the man did not have an explosive belt.

No one else was hurt in the incident, which happened just before 9 p.m. local time, well after the rush hour had ended.

Photos posted on social media showed a small fire in the station, which was evacuated along with the main Brussels square and the nearby Grand Place, a major tourist destination.

The city has been on high alert for more than 18 months since Brussels-based Islamic State militants carried out attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015. In March of last year, attacks on the Brussels airport and on the city’s metro system killed 32 people.

Two suicide bombers killed 16 people at the Brussels airport, and moments later a suicide bomb at Brussels’ Maelbeek subway station killed another 16 on March 22.

XS
SM
MD
LG