Tags: brussels | crime | lab | attack | evidence

Brussels Crime Lab Attack Likely Sought to Destroy Case Evidence

Image: Brussels Crime Lab Attack Likely Sought to Destroy Case Evidence

Damage can be seen at the building of the National Criminology Lab in Brussels on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

By    |   Monday, 29 Aug 2016 12:33 PM

A Brussels crime lab attack is thought to have been an attempt to destroy evidence.

Five people were arrested after the National Institute of Criminology in Brussels was set on fire early Monday, causing an explosion, Reuters reported. No one was injured. Those arrested were released after questioning.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions, but officials said the sound was likely materials going up in flames.

"It was arson, deliberate arson, at the laboratory of the federal police," prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said, according to Reuters. "With a fire you get explosions, but it's not that explosives were thrown inside or installed."

Van Wymersch said there were no indications that the fire was an act of terrorism, however officials are investigating all possible motives. Suicide bombings that killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and subway on March 22 have raised concerns about attacks on the country.

The suspects rammed a car through fences before setting the blaze in the crime lab at about 2 a.m., The Associated Press reported.

The lab contains evidence, such as DNA samples found at crime scenes, used in ongoing investigations.

"The laboratory does thousands of analyses each year, so we don't know what damage has been done yet," Van Wymersch said, according to the AP. "It is obvious that several individuals would have an interest in making elements in their justice file disappear."

She called the damage to the building "severe," The New York Times reported, adding that the attack could hinder the efforts of police and intelligence officials to pursue suspects and monitor threats.

The lab analyzed hair samples from Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving participant in the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, the Times said. Abdeslam was captured in Brussels on March 18.

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A Brussels crime lab attack is thought to have been an attempt to destroy evidence.
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Monday, 29 Aug 2016 12:33 PM
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