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Raids, arrests after failed nail bomb attempt in Brussels

BRUSSELS -- Belgian authorities say police have detained four people in a series of raids in Brussels linked to the failed bombing at a rail station this week.

The federal prosecutor's office said Thursday that the four were picked up during searches in the Molenbeek neighborhood, where many extremists have lived or transited, as well as in Anderlecht and Koekelberg.

It didn't say whether anything had been seized in the raids, and declined to provide further details.

The raids come after a man blew up a device Tuesday at Brussels Central Station that failed to fully detonate. He was fatally shot by soldiers. No one else was hurt.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and a subway station last year.

The quick shooting of an attacker who tried to detonate a nail bomb and shouted "Allahu akbar" at a Brussels train station averted fatalities, officials said Wednesday, as Belgium increased security measures around the country.

The attacker was a 36-year-old Moroccan national not known to authorities for being involved in terror activities, federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters. He declined to say if the man had a criminal record.

The man charged soldiers at Brussels Central Station on Tuesday after his suitcase, containing nails and gas canisters, failed to fully explode, Van der Sypt said. It was a lucky escape for several travelers nearby.

The man then shouted "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before the soldiers shot him dead, the magistrate said. Nobody else was injured.

"It was clear he wanted to cause much more damage than what happened," Van der Sypt said. "The bag exploded twice but it could have been a lot worse."

Prime Minister Charles Michel said later on Wednesday that "a terrorist attack was foiled" that "could have potentially been extremely dangerous."

Police raided the slain suspect's home Wednesday in Molenbeek, home also to many of the suspects who were linked to the deadly attacks in Brussels and in Paris in November 2015. The officers removed bags full of evidence from the suspect's home.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and a subway station on March 22, 2016.