Tag Archives: Belgium

Brussels Attack: Manhunt Continues as Police Identify Bomb Suspect, Suicide Bombers

Belgian police have identified multiple suspects who they say are responsible for explosions at an airport and a metro station in Brussels Tuesday morning.

The Associated Press reported that police conducted raids into the night and circulated a photo of three men seen in the airport suspected of involvement,” and that Belgian state broadcaster RTBF identified two of the suspects as brothers Khalid and Brahim El-Bakraoui.

RTBF also reportedly claimed that the two El-Bakraoui brothers involved in the attacks acted as suicide bombers, with Brahim El-Bakraoui at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, and Khalid El-Bakraoui at the Maelbeek metro station.

The news agency noted that while the brothers had criminal records for armed robbery charges, they were not known as suspected terrorists. Khalid El-Bakraoui reportedly rented one of the apartments raided by police in their search for Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terrorist attacks, who was arrested four days before the attacks in Brussels, and was linked to the Islamic State.

As previously reported, Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels, claiming that “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels.”

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Wednesday that police found a computer with a will left by Brahim El-Bakraoui, and that two other men captured on CCTV at the airport with Brahim have not been identified.

Reuters reported that although Belgian media reported that Najim Laachraoui, a prime suspect in the airport bombings, was detained Wednesday, they later reported that the person arrested was misidentified.

The AP reported that Belgian police have been searching for Laachraoui since last week, because he is “a suspected accomplice of Abdeslam,” and he is “believed to have made the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks.”

While the death toll is currently at 34 with 260 wounded, Health Minister Maggie De Block said that it will likely rise, due to the fact that some of the victims of the bomb blasts were blown to pieces and it is hard for officials to identify them.

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Terror Attacks in Brussels Leave at Least 34 Reported Dead

[UPDATE: Manhunt Continues as Police Identify Bomb Suspect, Suicide Bombers] 

11:30 a.m. EST: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Reuters reported. A statement from the group said, “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels.”

11 a.m. EST: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement claiming that three Mormon missionaries on a trip to Paris, France, “were seriously injured in Tuesday’s explosion at the Brussels airport.

The church identified the injured missionaries as Richard Norby, 66, of Lehi, Utah; Joseph Empty, 20, of Santa Clara, Utah; and Mason Wells, 19, of Sandy, Utah.

10:30 a.m. EST: At least 34 people have been reported dead following multiple explosions at an airport and on a metro train in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday, resulting in reports of a terrorist attack.

The New York Times reported that at least one of the explosions was caused by a suicide bomber, and as a result, Belgium “raised its terror alert to the highest level, diverting planes and trains and ordering people to stay where they were.”

Belgian Health Minister Maggie de Block said that 14 people were killed and 81 were injured after twin explosions were heard at Brussels’ Zaventem airport around 07:00 GMT.

An hour later, an explosion was reported at Maelbeek metro station, leaving 20 people killed and 55 injured, according to transport officials.

The attacks occurred four days after Salah Abdeslam, a suspect from the Paris terrorist attacks in November, was arrested in Brussels.

In response to the attacks on Tuesday, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said“What we feared has happened,” and claimed that although there was no evidence linking the explosions to Abdeslam, the suspect had said he “created a new network and was planning new attacks.”

Reuters noted that while Belgian “police and combat troops on the streets had been on alert for any reprisal action,” after Abdeslam’s arrest, the attacks “took place in crowded public areas where people and bags are not searched.”

In an address following the attacks, President Barack Obama said that “We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people around the world.”

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Annabelle Bamforth contributed to this article.

French Prosecutor: Suspected ‘Mastermind’ of Paris Attacks Killed in Police Raid

The suspected mastermind behind the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 last Friday was killed in a police raid on Wednesday, according to a Paris prosecutor.

The suspect, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant, was killed after police investigations led them to the Paris suburb of St. Denis and “heavily armed officers stormed the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions.”

“Abdel Hamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified, after comparing fingerprints, as having been killed during the raid,” Paris Prosecutor François Molins said in a statement. “It was the body we had discovered in the building, riddled with bullets.”

Police “fired around 5,000 rounds of ammunition in the confrontation and used strong munitions that spurred a floor to collapse,” but that the exact way Abaaoud died is unknown.

The statement from Molins claimed “We still don’t know whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not.”

[RELATED: France Moves to Strip Citizens of Civil Liberties After Paris Attacks]

There was one other fatality in Wednesday’s St. Denis raid: a woman identified as Hasna Aitboulahcen.

Three police officials have reportedly said Aitboulahcen was Abaaoud’s cousin, and one official said she is “believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief exchange with police officers.”

[RELATED: France Declares State of Emergency, Military Enacts Full Control]

Following the attacks last Friday, France declared a “state of emergency” which gave the government the authority to utilize censorship, regulate circulation and gathering in some areas, close places of gathering altogether, and to conduct house-to-house searches at any time without judicial oversight.

At an assembly meeting, where a three-month extension of the “state of emergency” status was being debated, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that “we must not rule anything out” when looking at the prospect of terrorists “using chemical weapons.”

“France has been attacked,” Valls said. “French people are under shock. They are expecting from all of us some strong, quick and effective reactions.”