Brussels mosque alert: Powder was flour

2015-11-26 19:25
Two men in hazmat suits stand at the entrance of the Grand Mosque of Brussels. (Virginia Mayo, AP)

Two men in hazmat suits stand at the entrance of the Grand Mosque of Brussels. (Virginia Mayo, AP)

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Brussels - Belgian emergency services evacuated the biggest mosque in Brussels and decontaminated 11 people on Thursday after the discovery of a suspicious package containing what turned out to be flour, officials said.

With the EU capital on its highest terror alert, firefighters in chemical suits and gas masks were called in to the Great Mosque of Brussels amid fears that white powder in the package could be anthrax.

Security levels

"It was just flour. Everything is negative and the cordon has been lifted," Brussels fire brigade spokesperson Pierre Meys said after the mosque was sealed off for three hours, adding that the substance had been analysed at a laboratory.

The mosque, the city's biggest, is located just a few blocks from the major EU institutions and many embassies and was cordoned off by police and firemen.

The alert came with Brussels on maximum security levels in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13, with two Belgium-linked suspects still on the run.

Fire brigade captain Anne Wibin, who was at the scene, said eleven people, including two police officers, were decontaminated as a precautionary measure after the package was found.

"A parcel was found at the entrance to the mosque and found to contain white powder. We are taking all preventative measures in case it is anthrax but it is a precautionary measure," she said earlier.

Jihadist activity

"People in direct contact were isolated and decontaminated and also those who were in indirect contact."

Meys said that four people were taken to hospital.

Earlier this week several mosques in the Molenbeek neighbourhood, seen as a hotbed of jihadist activity inspired by ISIS, received threatening letters from a group calling itself "Christian state".

Read more on:    isis  |  france  |  belgium  |  paris under attack

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