Developing: Brussels police opened fire on a car packed with explosives after a high-speed chase through the suburb of Molenbeek.
Shots were fired at the vehicle after it became stuck in traffic and the driver reversed into a police car, the Daily Mail UK reported.
Police cordoned off the area and told residents to remain indoors while military units checked for explosives.
Brussels police spokeswoman Dorothee Cattrysse said 400 to 500 people were being kept in the stores. Police spokeswoman Ine van Wymersch told Reuters: ‘The man was driving suspiciously and failed to stop at a traffic light.
‘When the police arrested him, he claimed to have explosives so not to take any risk, the army has been called in to check.’
She said ‘mentally unstable’ suspect was from Rwanda and was not known to have a police record.
The vehicle was reportedly registered in Germany.
Molenbeek, a poor district of the capital with a large Moroccan Muslim population, has been dubbed the ‘jihadi capital of Europe’.
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The driver, who was unarmed, was arrested at the scene. He was later described by the Belgian prosecutor’s office as mentally unwell. “It’s a mentally unstable person,” a spokeswoman for prosecutors said. “The military did not find any explosive in his vehicle.”
Two controlled explosions were heard by witnesses after both the army and bomb disposal units attended the scene as a precaution, but no explosives were found. The heavily protected team could be seen removing plastic bags containing some items from the car, which was surrounded by a number of police vehicles.
In 2016, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the two bomb attacks that killed at least 31 people and injured more than 220 in the departure hall of Brussels’ Zaventem airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.
The coordinated bombings came days after Belgian officials warned of possible attacks following the arrest in a Brussels shootout on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the only known survivor of the 10 Islamist attackers who killed 130 people in a string of suicide bombings and shootings in Paris in November.
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