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france 24 Europe

Belgian brothers identified as Brussels airport, metro attacks suspects

© John Thys, AFP | Security has been tightened across Belgium following Tuesday's deadly attacks in Brussels.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-23

Two brothers – one of whom left behind a 'will' on a computer – carried out suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station, which killed 31 people and injured 270, Belgium’s federal prosecutors revealed Wednesday.

Ibrahim El-Bakraoui, a 29-year-old Belgian national, blew himself up at the Zaventem airport, while his brother, Khalid, detonated his explosives at the Maelbeek metro station near the EU headquarters, prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told a press conference in Brussels Wednesday .

Ibrahim had been identified using finger print records, Van Leeuw said, adding a third suspect remained on the run.

No details on the third suspect were released.

A search through a garbage bin near a hideout used by the brothers revealed a computer that contained what appeared to be Ibrahim El-Bakraoui’s will, prosecutors told reporters.

The document appeared to have been written in a rush, with El-Bakraoui writing, “I don't know what to do, hunted everywhere, no longer safe," and "I don't want to end up in a cell next to him," said Van Leeuw, apparently in reference to Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam who was captured by Belgian police last week.

New mystery arrest

Prosecutor Van Leeuw also referred to a CCTV image from the Zaventem airport taken shortly before the attacks, which revealed three men in the departures lounge pushing trolleys.

Ibrahim El-Bakraoui was one of them, confirmed Van Leeuw. The second bomber was not identified while the third man in the picture, wearing a light overcoat and hat, had fled from the scene and was the focus of an intense manhunt. 

Police carried out several searches following the attacks, Van Leeuw said, including at an address that was given to investigators by a taxi driver who said he had driven three men to the airport Tuesday morning. Police searching the address found chemicals used to make explosives as well as a detonator and bags full of bolts and screws.

Van Leeuw also said that one person detained in one of the raids remained in custody Wednesday and was being questioned, but refused to say if it was the suspect that fled the airport.

But Turkey said on Wednesday it had warned Belgian authorities about one of the assailants last year.

Speaking at a news conference, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said it had deported one of the attackers to the Netherlands in June, subsequently warning Dutch and Belgian officials that he was an Islamist militant.

Erdogan did not name the attacker, and Belgian authorities did not immediately respond to Erdogan’s criticism.

A minute’s silence

The developments in the investigation came as Belgium marks three days of national mourning for the victims of the Brussels attacks. Belgians observed a nationwide minute’s silence at noon with King Philippe, the premier and leaders of EU institutions attending an outdoor memorial event in Brussels' European district.

The German government also held a minute of silence for the victims of the Brussels attacks at the start of its weekly Cabinet meeting. The German Foreign Ministry confirmed that some of its citizens are among the over 270 people wounded in the Brussels attacks, including one seriously injured person.

A day after the attacks, security was tightened across Brussels, but residents of the city had returned to work and their daily lives in a display of defiance, according to FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris-Trent.

“There’s a remarkable atmosphere here in Brussels this morning, because we are seeing people pouring out on the streets again, coming to work despite many of them saying they are afraid. I’m here at Central Station and there were queues of people at the doors, despite heavy security. This station is guarded by heavily armed soldiers, but people are telling us they are determined to carry on with their everyday life.”

While rail and metro services had resumed Wednesday, the heavily damaged Zaventem airport will remain closed through Friday, transport officials said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-03-23


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