Explosives found in Brussels 'belonged to ex-Russian soldier'

Thursday July 11 2019

Cycling enthusiasts stand past a structure representing the Eiffel Tower as they cheer riders from the roadside during the sixth stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Mulhouse and La-Planche-des-Belles-Filles in Mulhouse, on July 11, 2019. PHOTO | MARCO BERTORELLO |

Cycling enthusiasts stand past a structure representing the Eiffel Tower as they cheer riders from the roadside during the sixth stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Mulhouse and La-Planche-des-Belles-Filles in Mulhouse, on July 11, 2019. PHOTO | MARCO BERTORELLO |  AFP

AFP
By AFP
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BRUSSELS

Home-made explosives found on the day the Tour de France was launched in Brussels belonged to an "unstable" former Russian soldier who died in 2011, prosecutors said Thursday.

A worker found a stash of weapons Saturday in the step of a stairway of a building near where cyclists raced.

"The bag containing explosives, knives and brass knuckles belonged to a man, G.A., a former Russian soldier who was born in 1965 and died in 2011," the Brussels prosecutor's office said.

It said the stash was found in the first step of the stairway leading to the landing where the Russian's apartment was located in the Anderlecht neighbourhood.

The building's owner told investigators that the Russian was known to possess knives in the 2000s and was "mentally unstable and inclined to paranoia," the prosecutors said.

Fingerprints of the man, who was only identified by his initials, were also found on the cellophane tape covering one of the knives, they added.

The prosecutor's office said it intended to close the case given that the man died in 2011.

It added there was no link to the "festive events" at the weekend or to the country's terrorism cases.

Belgium has been hit by a number of Islamist extremist attacks, the worst being suicide bombings on March 22, 2016 at Brussels airport and a city metro station that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others.

Security was high for the Tour de France, an epic three-week cycling competition around France, which was launched from the cobbled streets of Brussels on Saturday.

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