Brussels – On Wednesday, the Belgian capital of Brussels was shut down for five hours thanks to a false alarm regarding a terrorist threat.

This afternoon Brussels’ police officers surrounded and held at gunpoint a man who was “behaving suspiciously” near Place de la Monnaie in the center of the Belgian capital. The suspect of being a suicide bomber was wearing a long and thick winter coat when the weather was around 32°C, and wires could be seen hanging out of the jacket’s hem.

Roads around the Place de la Monnaie in Brussels were blocked, and businesses were evacuated. Image Credit: Crazy Planeat
Roads around the Place de la Monnaie in Brussels were blocked, and businesses were evacuated. Image Credit: Crazy Planeat

The incident went on for five hours. The operation took so long because members of the bomb disposal squad had to approach the man to find out if there was a risk he was wearing explosives.

Christian De Coninck, a spokesman for the city’s police force, told Belgian TV that they “didn’t take any risks.

“The person was stopped and kept at a distance,” and that they were “now waiting for more information from the bomb disposal unit which is at the scene now and then we’ll know more,” De Coninck said.

But since the suspect was behaving quite suspiciously, the squad decided to send a robot instead, which revealed the man was wearing metal plaques. De Conick stated that “when we found out his body was covered with metal plates and considering the fact he did not cooperate, we had to step up our efforts.” However, turns out the suspect was just a university student, who wanted to study radiation and airwaves in the city.

“As the person was very passive and very suspect during the operation, the police zone decided to bring civil actions to recover the costs incurred in the process,” according to De Coninck.

The man was arrested and brought to the police station for questioning. Belgium is celebrating its National Day tomorrow, July 21, which means security has been stepped up in a preventive measure of a terrorist threat.

Security Issues

On 14 July 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31, drove into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The attack killed eighty-four people and wounded more than three hundred. Belgian authorities have called for extra security measures for Belgium own national celebrations.

A month ago, another false alarm was raised when a 26-year-old man with a history of psychiatric problems called the police claiming to have been abducted and made to wear an explosive belt. In the end, the fake belt contained salt and biscuits.

On April, coordinated suicide bombings at the Brussels’ airport and metro station left thirty-two deaths and more than three hundred wounded and have been the deadliest act of terrorism in the country’s history. The terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed sole responsibility for the attacks.

The country was already shocked when it was found many of the ISIS jihadists involved in the November Paris onslaught which killed 130 people had grown up together in Brussels. As of July 20, 2016, ISIL has been linked to twenty-three terrorist attacks, mostly in Iraq. So far, the numbers of deaths reach up to more than seven hundred, with more than 1,700 people wounded.

Source: BBC News