EU Parliament offices in Brussels evacuated after gun scare

EU Parliament offices in Brussels evacuated after gun scare

Home Tue Feb 3, 2015 12:29AM

A number of European Parliament buildings in the Belgian capital have been evacuated after police detained a man outside one of the premises with a gun and a chainsaw in his car.

On Monday, parliament spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot said, “Police evacuated three of the parliament’s buildings,” which contained around 500 people, in central Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union.

However, a later statement by the assembly said four administrative buildings and a visitors’ center were cleared as a precautionary measure.

According to a statement by the prosecutor’s office, the detained man, a Slovakian national in his early 30s, told police “he wanted to meet the president of the parliament.”

He was charged with “threatening an attack, possession of an illegal weapon and unauthorized possession of a firearm requiring a license.”

Police detained the man, wearing camouflage gear, after he was spotted acting suspiciously in the vicinity.

The area around the man’s car was sealed off by police. Then a robot was used to examine the vehicle to establish if it contained explosives.

Belgium has been on high alert following the recent Paris terror attacks and series of police raids on suspected foreign fighters in the country last month.

Paris attacks

The attacks in France began on January 7, when the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo came under assault by two gunmen. Some 12 people were killed in the incident.

Two days later, two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, suspected of murdering the journalists, were killed after being cornered at a printing workshop in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele.

On the same day, another gunman named Amedy Coulibaly killed four hostages in a separate terror attack at a Paris supermarket before he was slain by police.

Anti-terror raids

Security forces in Belgium detained at least three suspected militants in fresh counter-terrorism raids in the country’s west.

Belgian media reported on January 27 that security forces had taken the three men into custody in the western town of Harelbeke, close to the French border.

On January 15, Belgian police shot dead at least two suspected militants and left another seriously injured during a large-scale security operation in the eastern town of Verviers near the German border.

The Belgian security forces have also conducted around a dozen searches in the capital Brussels and its suburbs over past few days.

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