Fake Brussels bomb contained salt and biscuits

An explosive belt worn by a criminal suspect in Brussels early Tuesday was found to contain salt and biscuits, prosecutors said, adding that the man

The security alert follows a series of police raids at the weekend in relation to March 22 suicide attacks on the Brussels international airport and an underground station in the Belgian capital, in which more than 20 people were killed.

A man had called the police at around 5:30 am (0330 GMT) on Tuesday, saying that he had been abducted and driven to a shopping street in central Brussels, wearing an explosive belt that was due to be set off remotely, the prosecution said.

The police found the man - identified only as JB, born in 1990 - and a security cordon was set up, while experts were called to the scene to examine the explosive belt.

"Following an initial inspection, it was found that it contained salt and biscuits," the Brussels prosecution service said in a statement.

JB is known to the police for various incidents, some of which are linked to psychiatric problems. He recently told the police that he had been incited to join the Islamic State extremist group in Syria - a claim that cannot yet be confirmed or rejected, the prosecution said.

An investigation is under way to determine whether the suspect is linked to terrorist incidents or whether Tuesday's scare was a false alert, the statement added.

The incident triggered a national crisis centre meeting, attended among others by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur later said there was no threat against shops in central Brussels and no order for them to stay shut. At the same time, he warned people to be prudent.

"This may be a provocation, but the set-up nonetheless involves an explosive belt, which touches upon terrorism," he said.

Three suspects were placed under arrest at the weekend and charged with attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group, following raids across Belgium.

Last update: Tue, 21/06/2016 - 11:41

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