Belgian officials say an attack on a crime lab in Brussels was more like an organized crime rather than a terrorist act, saying it was apparently meant to destroy criminal evidence.
“It's probably not terrorism. It's a criminal act,” said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office on Monday.
The official rejected earlier reports that the incident involved an explosion, saying the attackers rammed their car into the gates of the lab overnight and then set fire to the lab containing crime scene samples.
She said that the attack was apparently an effort to destroy evidence, adding that the lab contains “sensitive information” being used in ongoing investigations.
"It is obvious that several individuals would have an interest in making elements in their justice file disappear ... the laboratory does thousands of analyses each year, so we don't know what damage has been done yet,” she said, adding that the location “was not chosen randomly.”
Belgian media had reported earlier on Monday that residents in a suburb north of Brussels had heard the noise of at least one explosion at the site of Belgium's crime institute. Investigators dismissed the claims, saying the noise was probably materials going up in flames.
Reports said five people had been detained for questioning and released without charge following the incident.
Belgium has been the scene of several terror attacks over the past months. The government has declared a state of emergency in the European country since March 22 when bombings at the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people.
The country is seen as the prime recruitment ground in Western Europe for Daesh, a Takfiri group mainly operating in Iraq and Syria, which has claimed several attacks in Belgium over the past year.
Brussels intensified its anti-terror swoop last November when France declared that many of the attackers who had killed 130 people that month in the French capital, Paris, were Belgian nationals.