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World

Driver Carrying Gas Canisters in Trunk Detained in Belgium

Belgian authorities detained a suspect who was driving a car with gas canisters in his trunk Thursday, setting off a security alert in the center of Brussels

Police and members of the bomb squad investigate an area in the center of Brussels on Thursday, March 2, 2017, photo: AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
3 weeks ago

BRUSSELS – Belgian authorities detained a suspect who was driving a car with gas canisters in his trunk Thursday, setting off a security alert in the center of Brussels.

The prosecutor’s office said a busy part of the capital was closed off and a subway station closed during the evening rush hour.

Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said authorities acted quickly as a precaution “since the driver was known by judicial authorities and it was unclear why the gas canisters were there.”

Van Wymersch said a bomb squad carried out two controlled explosions involving items from the car while the suspect was being interrogated.

Police officers stand at a cordon during the investigation of a suspect car in the center of Brussels on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Belgian authorities have closed off part of the center of Brussels and a subway station after a suspect was detained with gas canisters in the trunk of his car. Photo: AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

No detonator or explosives were found, and only one of the two gas canisters was full, she added.

Saint Gilles Mayor Charles Picque described the driver as “a radicalized person, so it was normal to take precautionary measures.”

However, Van Wymersch cautioned not to jump to conclusions about a possible extremist motive.

The canisters were discovered after police pursued a car they observed speeding and running red lights.

The local transport authority said late Thursday that the Porte de Hal metro station closed on police orders, while a perimeter was established above ground.

Belgian security services have been on high alert since suicide bombers attacked the Brussels airport and subway last March 22, killing 32 people.

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