A suspect who triggered a bomb alert in Brussels early Tuesday was wearing a false explosive belt, judicial sources told the Belga news agency, as police began scaling back a security perimeter around the targeted shopping centre.

Tuesday's security alert follows a series of police raids at the weekend in relation to suicide attacks on the Brussels international airport and an underground station in the Belgian capital on March 22 that killed more than 20 people.

Early Tuesday, a man had called the police and indicated that he was wearing an explosive belt, prosecutors told Belga. A suspect, thought to be the same person, was later taken into custody.

A witness had also alerted police to a suspicious situation at the shopping centre in central Brussels at about 5:30 am (0330 GMT), prompting special forces to move on the mall.

A national crisis centre meeting was convened, attended among others by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur later said there was no threat against shops in central Brussels and no order for them to stay shut. At the same time, he warned people to be prudent.

"This may be a provocation, but the setup nonetheless involves an explosive belt, which touches upon terrorism," he said.

Three suspects were placed under arrest at the weekend and charged with attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group, following raids across Belgium.

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