An explosive belt worn by a criminal suspect in Brussels early Tuesday was found to contain salt and biscuits, prosecutors said, adding that the man

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

A man had called the police at around 5:30 am (0330 GMT) on Tuesday, saying that he had been abducted and driven to a shopping street in central Brussels, wearing an explosive belt that was due to be set off remotely, the prosecution said.

The police found the man - identified only as JB, born in 1990 - and a security cordon was set up, while experts were called to the scene to examine the explosive belt.

"Following an initial inspection, it was found that it contained salt and biscuits," the Brussels prosecution service said in a statement.

JB is known to the police for various incidents, some of which are linked to psychiatric problems. He recently told the police that he had been incited to join the Islamic State extremist group in Syria - a claim that cannot yet be confirmed or rejected, the prosecution said.

An investigation is under way to determine whether the suspect is linked to terrorist incidents or whether Tuesday's scare was a false alert, the statement added.

The incident triggered a national crisis centre meeting, 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 set-up 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.

Latest news

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Britain faces highest terrorism threat since 1970s, official says

Britain faces its highest threat of terrorism since the 1970s, when the Irish Republican Army planned a series of bomb attacks, a legal official said on Sunday.

Monitor: Syrian regime forces killed in fighting near Lebanon border

Dozens of Syrian regime troops were killed and injured in an attack on Sunday by hardline jihadists led by an al-Qaeda-linked group near the Lebanese border, a monitor said.

Anarchist riots hit central Athens district

Clashes broke out between Greek police and self-styled anarchists in a central Athens neighbourhood early Sunday.

Thousands more affected by noise under Berlin flight route change

Thousands more residents in Berlin could be affected by aircraft noise due to changes in a flight route to a long-delayed new international airport.

Details emerge on Heidelberg car-ramming as police seek motive

The car used to ram into crowds in the south-western German town of Heidelberg was rented in Hamburg, police said Sunday, as they continued to search for a motive for the incident.

Fire at asylum seeker accommodation in Sweden

A fire overnight at an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Sweden caused injuries to at least a dozen residents, police said on Sunday.

Analysts: Croatia's economy rises 3.3%, hitting new high since 2008

Croatia's economy expanded 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, compared to Q4 2015, according to projections of economic analysts polled by Hina, who ascribe this record high rise to increasing personal consumption, higher industrial output rates and growing investments.

Fate of German hostage in Philippines unknown as deadline passes

The fate of a 70-year-old German man held captive for three months in the southern Philippines was unknown after a deadline for a ransom to be paid passed Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Dengue fever risk growing in Thailand, authorities say

Dengue fever is posing a greater threat in Thailand, particularly in the southern region, the country's Disease Control Department said Sunday, as the number of people killed by the mosquito-borne disease this year stands at six.

Brexit fears plague locals and expats alike in southern Spain

As Britain's departure from the EU approaches, the anxiety is most palpable on Spain's Costa del Sol, where so many Britons live. What will happen to the economy if the expats one day have to leave?

'La La Land,' politics to share spotlight at Oscars

The Oscars will take the stage Sunday for an awards ceremony whose outcome feels like a foregone conclusion - a win, or 10, for "La La Land."