Brussels quarter sealed after gas canisters found

2017-03-02 20:08
A Brussels police officer stands guard at a security perimeter around Porte de Hal. (Laurie Dieffembacq, AFP)

A Brussels police officer stands guard at a security perimeter around Porte de Hal. (Laurie Dieffembacq, AFP)

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Brussels - Police and soldiers on Thursday sealed off a part of central Brussels after stopping a car transporting gas canisters, a police spokesperson said, as Belgium prepares to mark the first anniversary of the March terror attacks.

The spokesperson said there was no information about the driver. But reports quoted local mayor Charles Picque as saying the man was believed to have been radicalised but that it was difficult to know how dangerous the situation was.

"The car was stopped because the driver jumped several red lights. The police then noticed several gas canisters in the boot and rather than take any risks, they called for help from the army bomb squad," the spokesperson said.

The driver had put up no resistance and stopped of his own accord.

He was detained for questioning, the spokesperson said, adding it was unclear whether the driver would be charged with any offence.

Full combat gear

A security perimeter was set up in the Porte de Hal area near the main Midi rail station and famous for a medieval fortress which attracts tourists.

Buildings closest to the car have been evacuated and public transport either halted or diverted.

Attacks carried out by home-grown, Islamic State-inspired jihadists on March 22 last year on the metro and Brussels airport left 32 people dead.

The same jihadi cell also played a key role in the November 2015 Paris attacks that claimed 130 lives.

The authorities significantly stepped up security after the killings, with troops in full combat gear patrolling the streets and mounting guard around key buildings.

Read more on:    belgium

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