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Brussels terror attacks: What we know so far

01:07 23/03/2016
A round-up of Tuesday's attacks on the Belgian capital, the investigation and what happens next

At least 30 people were killed and almost 250 injured in Tuesday's terror attacks on Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station. Here is what we know so far...

The explosions

Zaventem: Two explosions occurred in short succession in the departures hall at Brussels airport at approximately 8am on Tuesday. Firefighters said 14 people were killed and 106 injured. A third, unexploded, bomb was later found in the search of the terminal building. Almost 1,000 people were present in the hall at the time of the attack. Some 600 flights were cancelled. The two suicide bombers have been identified as Khalim and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported on Wednesday, citing police sources. The brothers, aged 27 and 30 respectively, were wanted by police in connection with the Paris terror attacks and could have been the two people who fled the scene of a police raid in Forest last week.

Maelbeek: A bomb exploded on a metro train at 9.11am as it was leaving Maelbeek station in the direction of Arts-Loi. The Federal Crisis Centre said "about 20" people were killed and 130 injured.

Suspect 'on the run'

Investigators issued a photograph (above) of a man they are urgently seeking, on suspicion of being involved in the Brussels airport attack. The screengrab, taken from videosurveillance at the airport's departure hall, shows a man in a white jacket and dark hat pushing a luggage trolley. He was filmed alongside two other men wearing black, who are suspected of setting off the explosions in the terminal building. Belgian federal prosecutor Frederick Van Leeuw said it was "likely that two of the three suspects at the airport killed themselves and third is on the run".

Terror threat level raised

Prime minister Charles Michel said the level 4 terror alert - meaning a real and imminent threat - remains in place for as long as deemed necessary. A new assessment by Belgium's Co-ordinating Body for Threat Analysis, OCAM, will be carried out on Wednesday morning.
The reactions

Residents of Brussels are expressing their grief with messages in chalk on the pedestrian zone, outside the Bourse. King Philippe of Belgium said in a televised address that his country would respond to the threat "firmly, calmly and with dignity". Describing the attacks as "cowardly and odious", King Philippe said he and his wife Mathilde shared their sorrow with those who have lost a loved one or who were injured. He praised the work of the emergency services and gave thanks to "all those who spontaneously offered help". Prime minister Charles Michel and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker joined a vigil in downtown Brussels on Tuesday evening. Michel earlier said: "This is the most tragic attack that Belgium has ever seen. We are determined to do everything possible to safeguard our freedoms. Our freedom was struck in the heart this morning in Brussels, as it has been before in Paris, London and Madrid." Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said there was "a huge job ahead of us to rebuild Brussels an open and cosmopolitan city". Monuments in other European cities have been lit up in the colours of the Belgian flag in a sign of solidarity.

Islamic State claims responsibility

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks - but Belgian federal prosecutor Frederick Van Leeuw said their claim could not yet be verified and it was also too early to confirm a link with the Paris attacks. A statement published by the A'maq news agency, which is linked to the extremist 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, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State. Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station. The attacks resulted in more than 230 dead and wounded."

Schaerbeek raid: nail bomb

Police instructed the media to not divulge any location details of house searches to avoid jeopardising the investigation. The Belgian federal prosecutor later confirmed that an explosive device, chemicals and an Islamic State flag were found at an address raided in Schaerbeek.

And next?

Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon has declared three days of national mourning, running until Thursday, with a minute's silence at midday on Wednesday. Shopping centres and public markets should be open as usual, albeit with some reinforced security patrols. Starbucks - where the airport bombs were reportedly detonated - has closed its Belgian stores until further notice. Public transport started returning to normal on Tuesday evening. Schuman, Luxembourg and Brussels Airport SNCB stations remain closed. The STIB is updating this page with the latest on which lines are running. Brussels airport says it is "impossible to say when operations will be resumed". Ryanair has moved its Zaventem flights to Charleroi. Tour operators are trying to reschedule Easter holiday flights from other regional airports such as Ostend and Liège. Schools in the Brussels region will open as usual on Wednesday. The Federal Crisis Centre said: "Schools can get back to the normal situation. Citizens should remain vigilant." An additional 225 members of the Belgian military have been called in to the capital to provide reinforcement, and there are tougher border controls.

Written by Paul McNally



Can't think why it took so long. All those armed soldiers were completely useless. Even if it came down to guns, the terrorist will walk up with a smile and put a bullet through the soldiers head before he even knows what is happening. What did they think the terrorists would do? Come up and announce their presence and ask for a fair gun fight?

Mar 23, 2016 00:32

I find it alarming and discouraging that the alleged terrorists at the airport were seen on CCTV and no one thought of calling security to have them stopped and checked out/frisked. Was no one monitoring the screens? I mean, after last week's events that were so triumphantly announced, didn't anyone think they should discretely step up security just in case? Imo, the word proactive needs to be introduced to Belgian officialdom.

Mar 23, 2016 06:08

Maybe I'm stupid but I don't understand your logic at all. They became terrorists only after they blew themselves up. Before that, at the time they were captured on the CCTV at the airport, they were just like hundreds other people in the departure hall, pushing their trolleys, seemingly on their way to catching a plane. What would have been the reason to stop and check/frisk them?

Mar 23, 2016 10:25

Belgium (and Europe) will only defeat terrorism when it will feel that its fighting for it's life. Until that happens - nothing will change. It will keep on just absorbing more attacks. Pathetic and sad to see the security forces scrambling in the dark. Anyone speaking Moroccan arabic out there?
and yes a couple of armed soldiers outside Inno?. a joke

Mar 23, 2016 10:49

I agree with Anniek that they only "became" terrorists after they committed the horrible act BUT as the press pointed out, the screen grab shows them BOTH wearing one single glove on their left hands-surely that's suspect enough to warrant them being stopped and questioned etc? since it's been suggested that they were wearing one glove to hide their hand-held detonators.
That said these guys were so intent in becoming "martyrs" for the "cause" that they'd have detonate anyway :-( - very sad

Mar 23, 2016 10:54

Both noremac and anniek - so naive...
Hello? Heard about INTELLIGENCE? (probably not) (-:
that's when you have information on suspects and grab them AHEAD of an attack

Mar 23, 2016 11:24

As far as I know the Belgian police and intelligence services have in fact successfully stopped numerous planned attacks over the past few years. But unfortunately there is no way to stop them all. Even in Israel, which I assume must have the best intelligence service in the world, with the most advanced resources, sees these attacks from time to time.

Mar 23, 2016 11:43

First of all the 2 guys on the left (and probably the one on the right too) have Middle Eastern patterns !
Secondly, the only way out to avoid North Africans to go for such "causes" is to stop teaching them Arabic and Islamic so called "culture".
Authorities know perfectly thet this is the reason why these yougsters get mad. They should teach them Berber culture that brings 180° opposite orientation than the one funded by Saoudy Arabia....
But business (Petroil) is Business .....

Mar 23, 2016 12:09

Mumsile and Anon2 - you two are museum pieces! Noremac - Michael Jackson and Madonna among many others, years ago, wore gloves only on one of their hands - perhaps the two of them fathered these two brothers?
What's wrong with you people: too much time on your hands? Your comments are some of the most bizarre I've seen since yesterday. Importantly, you seem to think you're right! Funny guys.

Mar 23, 2016 14:01

scuse but where exactly did i mention a glove?? lost your glasses again? (-:!
Belgian political structure and it's fractured make up together with it's very laid back mentality means one thing - more of the same. Chaos on all levels rules, not only in handling terror. two countries in one? a circus
Europeans will have to decide between total freedom and lots of terror or less freedom and more protection. it doesn't look like they are prepared to change.
Last one out turn off the lights (-:

Mar 23, 2016 18:24

I read yesterday a police chief stating that the Belgian police is overhelmed by the situation, that they have not enough resources to fight this.
Well, couldn´t they say it before? and demand it?
If they dont have a budget for intelligence and special anti-terrorist police, why they keep on buying tanks and fighter planes?
Sure the personal security of the politicians has tightened...
Accountability, Resignation: does that mean anything for Belgian government?
My condolences to all the victims; most of them, common people. They dont deserve this.

Mar 23, 2016 18:27