2016-03-25 18:31:00

Explosions again rock Brussels as police down terror suspect

(Vatican Radio) Explosions have once again rocked the Belgian capital of Brussels in a police operation where at least one terror suspect has been shot and injured. Friday's violence came while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Brussels just days after at least 31 people were killed and 270 others injured in attacks on the Brussels airport and a subway train.

It means that Good Friday in heavily Catholic Belgium was overshadowed by more anxiety. Special police forces, some wearing masks, rushed to Meiser Square in the Brussels suburb of Schaarbeek as part of a massive anti-terror operation.

Soon after at least three explosions were reported. A man with a backpack was reportedly shot and "neutralized" after refusing to obey police orders. 

Eyewitnesses said they saw police shoot a man carrying a machine gun who had emerged from an underpass. He was reportedly rushed to hospital with injuries in a leg. Belgian television also showed bomb disposal personal on the scene.  

On Friday, in total at least 10 terror suspects were known to have been detained in three European countries, including seven in Brussels, two in Germany and one in Paris.  

The operations continued while US Secretary of State visited Brussels to commemorate the dozens of people who died in Tuesday's attacks, including at least two Americans. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the violence.

Kerry, standing next to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel warned the Islamic State group that the international community will eventually destroy its operations. "We -  all of us representing countless nationalities - have a message for those who inspired or carried out the attacks here or in Paris, or Ankara, or Tunis, or San Bernardino, or elsewhere: We will not be intimidated," Kerry said.

"We will not be deterred. We will come back with greater resolve - with greater strength - and we will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of the Earth."


However the Belgian government faces a political crisis amid increasing evidence of intelligence and law enforcement failures to prevent this week's suicide bombings by Islamic militants.

Turkey claims that it had deported one of the suicide bombers and had warned Belgium about him. The revelation prompted two Belgian ministers to offer to resign on Thursday.
Yet, Belgian Prime Minister Michel has refused to accept their resignations. He has pledged to step up security.

Despite these efforts, government officials acknowledge that Tuesday's attacks on what is also the European Union's capital show that Europe is in their view now facing a long war against terrorism. 

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