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Belgium arrests five suspects after crime lab blast

A bomb exploded at the Brussels Institute of Criminology in the north of Brussels on Monday but the building was empty and no one was wounded

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Belgian police have arrested five suspects after a blast overnight Monday at the country’s national crime lab just north of Brussels caused major damage but no casualties, prosecutors said.

“Five people were arrested in the immediate neighborhood... They are currently being questioned to see if they had any role in the incident,” Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels’ prosecutor’s office, told a press briefing.

It was not immediately known what caused the blast, but a fire service spokesman, Pierre Meys, said “it was probably not accidental.”

The prosecutors’ office declined to speculate on the cause of the explosion at the Institute of Criminology in a Brussels suburb.

Belgian media said the blast was caused by a car which rammed the building.

“The explosion was extremely powerful,” said Meys. “Windows of the lab were blown out dozens of meters away.”

He said about 30 firefighters were at the scene at around 3:00am (0100 GMT) fighting the blaze. The institute is part of Belgium’s federal justice system.

Among its tasks is to carry out scientific analyses linked to criminal cases and to study the functioning of the penal system.

The explosion occurred with Belgium on high alert after suicide bombers struck Brussels airport and a metro station near the European Union headquarters on March 22, killing 32 people.

Those attacks were claimed by ISIS, which controls large areas of territory in Iraq and Syria and has claimed numerous terror attacks in Europe in recent months.