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No explosives found in car stopped by Brussels police

BRUSSELS -- Belgian prosecutors said Tuesday that no explosives were found in a car stopped by police fire after a high-speed chase in the flash-point Brussels suburb of Molenbeek.

"Nothing suspicious was found in the vehicle," said Ine Van Wymersch, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

The car was chased by police after running a red light and involved in two collisions until it was finally brought to a halt, she said. A witness, Mohamed Al Mossawi, told The Associated Press that the car's tires were shot out by police. Van Wymersch said only one shot was fired.

"When the person got out, he immediately claimed that there were explosives inside," Van Wymersch said.

She declined to identify the suspect, but said he was a Rwandan national born in 1981 who was not previously known to police.

Molenbeek: Terror recruiting ground

A few hundred people were kept in nearby shops as a precaution while heavily protected army bomb disposal experts were called in to assess the situation.

Unprotected police and forensic experts were later at the scene, taking objects from the car and examining them.

The all-clear was given just over three hours after the car was stopped. No one was injured.

Brussels has been on heightened alert since 32 people were killed in 2016 suicide attacks. Deadly explosions rocked the Brussels airport and subway system in March last year, splattering blood across the airport's departure lounge and collapsing the ceiling.

Many suspects linked to those attacks, as well as the November 2015 massacre in Paris, lived in or transited through Molenbeek, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in Brussels with about 100,000 residents.

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A bomb disposal squad is deployed in the Brussels district of Molenbeek on Tue., Aug. 8, 2017. Reuters