Brussels attacker identified as Moroccan with nail bomb
June 21 2017 07:11 PM
Brussels
A Belgian soldier patrols around the Central train station in Brussels on Wednesday following a failed terrorist bomb attack a day earlier.

AFP/Brussels

Belgian authorities on Wednesday identified a Moroccan man behind a foiled nail bomb assault on a busy Brussels train station, the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Europe. 
The 36-year-old -- named by prosecutors only by the initials O Z but by the media as Oussama Zariouh -- shouted "Allahu Akbar" and tried to detonate a suitcase among a group of passengers at Brussels Central station before a soldier shot him dead on Tuesday.
There were no casualties.
The suspect, from the largely immigrant Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek which has been linked to a number of previous attacks, was known to police for drug offences but not terrorism.
"It could have been much worse," Belgian federal prosecutor's spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a news conference. "It is clear that he wanted to cause more damage than he did."
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said a "terrorist attack has been prevented."
The city hosts the headquarters of the European Union and Nato alliance.
But Michel said that while security would be stepped up, the country's terror alert level would be kept stable.
"We are not allowing ourselves to be intimidated by terrorists," he added.
The blast came a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a suspected Islamist on a terror watchlist rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris.
Nails and gas bottles 
Brussels has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck Zavantem Airport and the Maalbeek metro station near the EU quarter in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.
The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same Brussels-based cell behind the November 2015 suicide bombings and shootings in Paris which left 130 people dead.
Molenbeek Mayor Francoise Schepmans told Le Soir newspaper the bomber, whom prosecutors identified only by the initials O Z was an "isolated individual" who had recently got divorced.
He had been linked to a drugs offence, but not for radicalism. RTL radio said he ran a telecoms shop in Molenbeek.
Police later raided the man's home in Molenbeek, home to some of the jihadists involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
In Tuesday's incident, the suspect entered the station and twice approached a group of around 10 passengers, the second time standing in the middle of them, prosecutors said.
"He grabbed his suitcase while shouting and causing a partial explosion. Fortunately nobody was hurt," Van Der Sypt said.
He said the "suitcase immediately caught fire" before the bomber went down to a platform in pursuit of a station master. 
The bag, which contained nails and gas bottles, exploded a second time more violently, he added.
The man came back upstairs, shouting 'Allahu Akbar' as he rushed a soldier who shot him several times and killed him instantly.
'People crying, shouting'  
Belgium would keep its terror alert level at three on a scale of four, Michel said after chairing a meeting with his national security council.
Events in Brussels including a concert by rock band Coldplay were set to continue, although authorities said there would be extra security and warned people not to bring backpacks.
The busy Central Station in the heart of Brussels, which sits just beside the Grand Place tourist attraction, reopened around 8:00 am Wednesday, railway authorities said.
Belgian rail company spokeswoman Elisa Roux said "there were people crying, there were people shouting" after the explosion.
Witness Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a railway employee, said he had gone down to the station's mezzanine level on Tuesday night after hearing somebody shouting.
"Then he yelled 'Allahu Akbar', and he blew up a wheeled suitcase," Van Herrewegen told reporters. 
"It wasn't exactly a big explosion but the impact was pretty big. People were running away."
Soldiers have been deployed at railway stations and landmark buildings in Belgium since the Paris terror attacks, when a link to Brussels was first established. 



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