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france 24 Europe

Belgium charges three Brussels attacks suspects

© Patrik Stollarz, AFP | Police carried out a major anti-terror operation in Brussels on Friday, March 25, 2016.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-27

Belgium’s federal prosecutor on Saturday said three suspects have been charged – one of whom may be the third Brussels airport bomber – with terrorist murder and other offences in connection with the deadly attacks in the country earlier this week.

Unconfirmed media reports suggested one of them, identified only as Fayçal C, is the third Brussels airport suicide bomber whose explosives failed to detonate during the attacks and who has been on the run ever since.

If confirmed, he would be the man in the “white hat” who police have been trying to identify after he was caught on video by airport surveillance cameras along with the other two airport bombers.

"That is a hypothesis the investigators are working on," a source close to the investigation told AFP.

His two Zaventem airport accomplices, Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, blew themselves up in the attack. El Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, attacked the city’s metro in a suicide bombing, but police are now searching for his unknown accomplice.

A total of 31 people were killed in the airport and Metro attacks.

The prosecutor said Fayçal C "has been charged with taking part in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder".

Local media speculated that the Fayçal C is an “independent journalist” named Fayçal Cheffou, but this has not been confirmed by authorities.

Fayçal C was arrested near the prosecutor’s office in Brussels on Thursday.

New suspect linked to attacks

The other two suspects charged Saturday were identified as Aboubakar A and Rabah N.

Aboubakar A was also arrested on Thursday, and has been charged with taking part in terrorist activities. Rabah N, who has links to a foiled plot in France, is being held on similar charges.

On Friday, the Flemish newspaper De Morgen reported that investigators have identified a new suspect linked to the attacks. A 28-year-old Syrian, who goes by the name of Naïm el Hamed, he has been described as “very dangerous”. Few other details are known about Hamed, who is now one of the most wanted men in Europe.

According to De Morgen, Hamed is also suspected of involvement in the November 13 jihadist attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

Along with ramped-up security, the investigation into the attacks is currently taking up a large part of the country’s police resources and Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon has appealed to people to not take part in Sunday’s planned solidarity rally in Brussels for these reasons.

"We invite the citizens tomorrow to not have this [rally]," he said, suggesting it should be delayed by several weeks. Organisers later decided to cancel the "March against Fear".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Date created : 2016-03-26

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