Brussels metro hoax threat triggers emergency response

Brussels metro hoax threat triggers emergency response
The European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Credit: Greenpeace

Unverified reports have been circulating on social media of a potential terrorist attack on Brussels' 2 and 6 metro lines on Wednesday. But whilst Belgium's National Crisis Centre has indicated that the threat has led to extra vigilance, it stated that "various implausible elements show that an attack is unlikely."

Two emails that were sent to the European Commission alerted the Crisis Centre and police swiftly acted to check on the Brussels metro following messages written in Russian threatening an "explosion" on Wednesday 8 March.

With public transport already disrupted in Brussels by various trade union strikes, the public was already wary of taking public transport. Many morning commuters then saw the reports on social media posts that police were surveilling a bomb threat. American nationals in Brussels were sent personal messages from the U.S. Embassy asking them to stay safe while commuting on Wednesday, especially on the 2 and 6 metro lines between the Yser and Rogier stops.

Le Soir reports that the emails came from a man who twice contacted the European Commission, on 16 February in the first instance and then on 3 March. His message warned – in Russian – that "In light of the EU's continued aggressive policies I hereby warn you of major terrorist attacks on EU territory."

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When contacted by The Brussels Times, Belgium's National Crisis Centre indicated that they (alongside other partners) have been monitoring the situation closely but in light of various elements consider "an attack is unlikely". Belgium's National Crisis Centre has since confirmed that the e-mail's contents were looked into by various authorities, arriving at the same conclusion that a potential attack is unlikely.

French-speaking newspaper La Libre also revealed that federal police had conducted the sweep of targeted locations on Tuesday evening, with no threat uncovered. Police patrols have been stepped up.

The public transport system has on numerous occasions been the target of violence – most infamous the 2016 terror attacks in which 20 people were killed by suicide bombers at Maelbeek station. More recently, a man stabbed three passengers at Schuman station on 30 January of this year.

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