Blast at Brussels crime lab, no casualties

A explosion “of criminal origin” at Belgium’s national criminology institute in Brussels early Monday caused a fire and major damage but no casualties, officials said.

Belgian media said the blast was caused by a car which rammed the building.

It comes as Belgium remains on high alert following the devastating IS-claimed suicide attacks on the city’s airport and metro in March.

“There was no one at the site” in the northern Brussels suburb of Neder-Over-Heembeek, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told AFP, refusing to comment on the cause except to say the explosion had a “criminal origin”.

The prosecutor has set up a “crisis centre”, the spokesman said.

Fire service spokesman Pierre Meys said “it was probably not accidental.”

“The explosion was extremely powerful,” said Meys. “Windows of the lab were blown out dozens of metres away.”

He said about 30 firefighters were at the scene at around 3:00am local time fighting the blaze.

RTBF television said two suspects rammed a car into the institute grounds and threw an incendiary device at it.

The institute is part of Belgium’s federal justice system. Among its tasks is to carry out scientific analyses linked to criminal cases and to study the functioning of the penal system.

Belgium has been high alert after suicide bombers struck Brussels airport and a metro station near the European Union headquarters on March 22, killing 32 people.

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