Brussels police arrest 5 suspects in crime lab arson attack

BRUSSELS, Aug. 29 (UPI) — Police in Brussels on Monday arrested five people in connection with an arson attack at a crime laboratory carried out to possibly destroy forensic evidence.

A vehicle broke through a fence and crashed into a building of the National Institute of Criminology at about 2 a.m. local time before a fire began, Brussels prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said.

Authorities are investigating whether a bomb exploded at the laboratory, which is in the northern Brussels district of Neder-Over-Heembeek.

Wymersch said the goal of the attackers was likely to destroy “several files” inside. Five people were arrested near the laboratory shortly after the fire was reported. About 30 firefighters fought the flames. There were no casualties but the building suffered significant damage.

Wymersch said the building is not safe to enter. The National Institute of Criminology is an independent body but is linked to Belgium’s federal justice agency.

“The location was not chosen randomly,” Wymersch said. “It’s an important site, that includes sensitive documents relating to current investigations.”

Fire service spokesman Pierre Meys said the incident was “probably not accidental.”

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

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