Monday, 02 February 2015
The European Parliament in Brussels was at the centre of a major security scare on Monday with scores of staff and visitors being evacuated.
It came after police found a gun and a chainsaw in a car parked near the Parliament.
It triggered a security scare which caused several offices at the sprawling parliamentary complex to be evacuated.
Brussels police later detained a Slovakian man dressed in camouflage gear near the European Parliament.
A police spokesman said the man had told police officers that he wanted to meet the European president Martin Schulz, a German MEP.
The Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot said about 500 people were evacuated but two of the three buildings, used only for administrative purposes, immediately after the incident which happened at about 11am.
He said they have since been declared safe.
The incident comes with Belgium still on high alert after police carried out a series of raids last month, acting on information that a terrorist cell was on the verge of launching an attack. Two suspects were killed in one raid, in eastern Belgium.
The buildings evacuated on Monday include administrative offices and the legislature’s visitor centre, called the Parliamentarium, spokeswoman Marjory van den Broeke said.
The main building housing committee rooms and the main chamber were thought to be unaffected and no staff were evacuated from these areas.
On first inspection, the car in question appeared not to contain explosives, another spokeswoman told Belga news agency. Police and military explosives experts were on site.
Earlier on Monday, a suspicious vehicle was spotted near the US embassy in Brussels.
The car was later found to have no dangerous items, and the alarm was lifted half an hour later.
By Martin Banks