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Brussels station attacker 'had ISIL sympathies'


Belgium

Brussels station attacker 'had ISIL sympathies'

In the end, the bomb suspect was the only casualty.

But a Moroccan man who struck at Brussels’ Central Station could have harmed many more.

His suitcase was packed with nails and gas bottles, officials say.

The 36-year-old, not previously known for terror activities, was shot dead after rushing towards a soldier shouting “Allahu akbar“ - God is greatest, in Arabic.

Prosecutors say they have found indications that he had sympathies for so-called Islamic State.



Federal Prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a news conference: “It is clear that he wanted to cause much more damage than he did. He tried to make the case explode, it caught fire. There was a small explosion first, then he moved away and the case exploded a second time. This was a stronger blast but the damage could have been a lot worse.”

A security source named the dead man, identified officially only by the initials O.Z., as Oussama Zariouh.

Molenbeek mayor Francoise Schepmans told reporters that Zariouh was on police files over a drugs case last year and was divorced.

He set off his bomb on a crowded station concourse below ground at 8:44 p.m. local time on Tuesday night.

Brussels is tense. The loud bang sent rail passengers and others fleeing in panic, well aware of last year’s deadly attacks at Brussels airport and on the metro, claimed by ISIL, as well as more recent terror strikes in Europe.

No further threat is seen as imminent nationwide and the public alert level has not been changed.



Prime Minister Charles Michel insisted that Belgium, which has been the most fertile European recruiting ground for ISIL in Syria and Iraq, will not be intimidated.

He told reporters: “I am pleased that very quickly this morning, from 8:15, we were able to resume the circulation of public transport and demonstrate this capacity to confront this threat facing us with calm and lucidity, in a composed manner with the determination to protect our freedom and our fundamental values.”

“We will not let ourselves be intimidated,” Michel said. “We will go on living our lives as normal.”

The suspect lived in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb that has spawned several ISIL militants.

Authorities say materials to make explosives were found in his house.


_with Reuters-

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