Chemical teams attend Brussels mosque after powder found

A Belgian firefighter walks past a truck of the decontamination unit outside the Grand Mosque in Brussels on Nov 26, 2015.
A Belgian firefighter walks past a truck of the decontamination unit outside the Grand Mosque in Brussels on Nov 26, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Firecrews and decontamination teams attended a major mosque in Brussels close to the European Union headquarters on Thursday (Nov 26) after a suspect powder was found that the fire service said was feared to be anthrax.

Reuters journalists saw about a dozen emergency vehicles, including police, outside the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium, a large Saudi-established institution including a mosque situated 200 metres from the European Commission.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said it had taken a call from the mosque from a person saying they believed that they had found anthrax powder, prompting the deployment of specialist crews. There was no immediate word on what the substance was.

Belgian media said envelopes of white powder were found.

Since the Paris attacks on Nov 13 by French and Belgian Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, there have been reports of threats against mosques used by Belgium's half million Muslims, among them some from an unknown group calling itself Christian State.

Separately, Belgian police have mounted a raid in a small town south of Brussels linked to fears of a militant attack, the local newspaper La Nouvelle Gazette said on its website.

“The federal police have staged a raid in Auvelais. According to our sources, the operation is linked to the risk of attacks in Belgium,” the paper said. Auvelais is about 50 km south of the capital, which is on high alert.