Latest: Quick action saved lives during Brussels attack, say Belgian officials

LATEST: The quick shooting of an attacker who tried to detonate a nail bomb and shouted "Allahu akbar" at a Brussels train station averted fatalities, officials said, as Belgium increased security measures around the country.

Latest: Quick action saved lives during Brussels attack, say Belgian officials

Update 11.35am: The quick shooting of an attacker who tried to detonate a nail bomb and shouted "Allahu akbar" at a Brussels train station averted fatalities, officials said, as Belgium increased security measures around the country.

The attacker was a 36-year-old Moroccan national not known to authorities for being involved in terror activities, federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters.

He declined to say if the man had a criminal record.

The man charged soldiers at Brussels Central Station on Tuesday after his suitcase, containing nails and gas canisters, failed to fully explode, Mr Van der Sypt said.

It was a lucky escape for several travellers nearby.

The man then shouted "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great", before the soldiers shot him dead, the magistrate said.

Nobody else was injured.

"It was clear he wanted to cause much more damage than what happened," Mr Van der Sypt said.

"The bag exploded twice but it could have been a lot worse."

Earlier reports said the man was wearing an explosive belt, but Mr Van der Sypt said that was not true.

He said the man was from the Molenbeek neighbourhood, the home and transit point for many of the suspects linked to attacks in Brussels and in Paris in November 2015.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and a subway station on March 22 2016.

Security remained high around rail facilities and preparations were under way to beef up security for a Coldplay concert at the 50,000-seat King Baudouin Stadium later.

"In three years we have been confronted with several attacks or attempts and we say the zero risk does not exist," Prime Minister Charles Michel said after a specially convened security meeting.

Central Station reopened at 8am (0600 GMT) on Wednesday.

A mobile police command unit and several officers were still at the station, an Associated Press photographer said.

Burn marks remained on the floor at the scene, as workers continued to clean up and paint the area.

Belgium's Crisis Centre said it sees no need to raise the national security alert level, which has been on its second-highest rung for more than a year.

It said that no public events would be cancelled but that additional police and troops have been mobilised.

AP

Earlier: Central Station in Brussels is reopening to passengers this morning, with a heavy police presence, after last night’s terror attack.

A man was shot by Belgian soldiers after detonating the small device, and he later died. No-one else was hurt.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said while it is important to address security concerns, it is also vital to avoid over-reacting.

He warned "against a society where we always and everywhere will be checked".

He added: "If we do that, it would be fulfilling the aim of the terrorists."

Earlier:

Belgian authorities say they have foiled a terror attack after soldiers shot dead a suspect following a small explosion at a busy Brussels train station.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers "neutralised" a male suspect at Central Station immediately after the explosion on Tuesday night.

The man lay still for several hours while a bomb squad checked whether he was armed with more explosives.

Prosecutor's spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch confirmed his death and said no other explosives were found on his body. Some Belgian media had reported earlier that the suspect was wearing a bomb belt.

Belgium's Crisis Centre, which monitors security threats in the country, said it did not see a need to raise the country's terror threat to the highest level and kept it at the second-highest mark.

Authorities set up a wide perimeter around the station near the city's famed Grand Place square.

Mr Van der Sypt said no one else was injured and the damage from the explosion was limited.

The attack happened at around 8.30pm, well after the evening rush hour.

Nicolas Van Herreweghen, who works for Belgium's national rail company, said the male suspect was very agitated, yelling about jihadists and then "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great", before blowing up something on a baggage trolley.

He said the man appeared to be aged 30 to 35.

The government agency that owns Belgium's railways was warned by a train driver who saw people running across the rail lines inside the station, spokesman Arnaud Reymann told broadcaster RTL.

National newspaper La Libre Belgique quoted the prosecutor's office as saying the suspect was wearing a backpack and an explosive belt. Photos posted on social media showed a small fire in the station.

Central Station is one of the busiest in the nation and soldiers could be seen patrolling there after the explosion. It was evacuated along with the Belgian capital's Grand Place, a major tourist site about 600ft away.

Rail company spokeswoman Elisa Roux said trains were diverted from the station and buses sent to take passengers.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and at an airport in March last year. Extra police and soldiers have become a common sight in crowded areas.

There have also been attacks in Paris and London in recent days, including one by a van driver who apparently tried to run down worshippers outside a London mosque.

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