July 31, 2018 / 1:56 PM / a year ago

Soccer field suicide bomb perplexes Belgium

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A man walked to the middle of an empty soccer pitch in a Belgian town and blew himself up with a grenade on Tuesday in what authorities said was an act of despair.

A 65-year-old former soldier left farewell notes at his home nearby saying he could no longer bear his life and making his last will, the public prosecutor said in a statement.

It classed the death as suicide but did not name the man.

The blast initially caused concern as Belgium has been rocked by Islamist violence in recent years.

Verviers, an eastern industrial town near Liege, was the scene in January 2015 of a shootout in which two men associated with later attacks in Paris and Brussels were killed.

However, details of Tuesday’s incident offered a very different picture.

“He walked calmly toward the center circle,” one witness told local newspaper La Meuse.

Stopping there, a little before 9 a.m. on a warm summer morning, he blew himself apart.

Reporting by Julia Echikson, writing by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Angus MacSwan

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