Man blows himself up on empty Belgium football field

BRUSSELS, Belgium – A man died on Tuesday after blowing himself up with a grenade on an empty football field in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers in an apparent suicide, prosecutors said in a statement.

Earlier media reports of the incident, which took place at around 0830am (0630 GMT), mentioned use of an explosive belt, triggering alarm in a country hit by a twin suicide attack in March 2016.

"A forensic doctor examined the body and found that the death was due to the explosion of a grenade," a statement from the public prosecutor's office said.

"The grenade pin and fragments from the device were found at the location," the statement added.

Prosecutors said a witness contacted local police to report that a man seen walking into the centre of the football field had blown himself up.

The victim, 65, whose name was not made public, "was quickly identified as a local resident and a former career soldier," the statement said.

A search of the victim's home found a suspected suicide note, the prosecutors said.

No explosives were found in the house, the statement said.

Contacted earlier by the Agence France-Presse, the federal prosecutor's office handling terror cases said that it was not responsible for this case, suggesting that police did not believe the incident involved terrorism.

Belgium was hit by jihadist attacks that killed 32 people on March 22, 2016.

An Islamic state terrorist cell was dismantled in January 2015 in Verviers that involved three jihadist returnees from Syria.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, considered the head of the terrorist teams that struck in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016, is suspected of having supervised this cell from Greece. –