Mar. 25, 2019 -- Following a phoned-in bomb alert, dozens of people were evacuated from a street near European Union headquarters on Tuesday morning, just two days before the EU summit. The street was reopened by noon after Brussels police had inspected the area and declared it safe.
Ilse Van de Keere, spokesman of the police zone Brussels-Ixelles, said the alert was sparked after an unnamed consulting firm that works with the European Commission received an early morning phone call from a person saying that a bomb would explode around 10:30 am.
"We received a phone call and alerted police, after which the street was evacuated," Benoit Roussel, a consultant for the firm, told the local press.
A 100-meter zone was cordoned off for two hours after the call. The sealed-off district is where the European Commission and European Union Council are located and is also near the British Embassy in Belgium. The firefighters and the medical personnel were standing by in case of explosion, and sniffer dogs were sent for inspection.
At about 1:00 pm, the alert was lifted by police as no danger was found in the district.
The bomb threat fell just two days before the 2019 European Union summit and three days before the third anniversary of the deadly Brussels terrorist attacks of 2016.
Three blasts struck Brussels on Mar 22, 2016, with two at the Zaventem international airport and one at Maelbeek metro station in the city center. Those bombings are the deadliest terrorist attacks ever in Belgium, killing 32 civilians and three perpetrators, and injuring more than 300 people.
This past week has seen other extremist attacks occurring in the world. On Monday, a gunman killed three people and wounded five on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Last Friday, 50 people were shot and killed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Brussels police said it is "difficult to prevent terrorist attacks completely, even in other countries", but the high security alert has been put on in Brussels, especially during the EU summit later this week.
According to the European Council, EU leaders will gather for the March 21-22 summit in Brussels to discuss such issues as Brexit, the upcoming summit with China on April 9, strengthening European economies and fighting climate change.