Brussels Attacks Update: The Day After

  • by: Maarten Schenk

After yesterday's horrific attack in Brussels left 34 people dead and more than 240 people wounded, here are the latest developments:

Three bombs were planned to explode in at Brussels airport, but one of them failed to go off. One bomber hit a subway train.

Two of the people involved in the attack have been identified as the brothers Ibrahim en Khalid El Bakraoui. Ibrahim was reportedly one of the the suicide bombers at the airport. Khalid has been identified as the bomber in the subway attack. The brothers were already known to Belgian authorities for their criminal behaviour in the past, including armed robbery and carjackings, for which they spent time in prison. They are linked to the Paris terror attacks because one of them rented one of the safehouses used by the Paris attackers.

A third suspect has been named as Najim Laachraoui, and he is also still believed to be alive and at large. There were some reports today he had been captured but those turned out to have been false.

Tension remains high in Belgium: there were several evacuations and bomb scares yesterday evening and this morning. One was at a cineplex in Antwerp, the other on the A12 highway linking Antwerp to Brussels and a third one was at a busy transit road lined with shops in Merksem (an Antwerp suburb). No actual bombs were found.

The taxi driver who brought the terrorists to the airport yesterday has provided police with a great lead: apparently the taxi was too small to carry all the luggage of the bombers so at least one bomb stayed behind in the safehouse. It was found by police acting on the information from the taxi driver. An ISIS flag and more bomb-making material were discovered at the scene. Police also recovered a computer from a thrashcan containing the testament of Ibrahim Bakraoui brothers.

Meanwhile there was some disturbing news about the Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam who was held in a Brugges jail. Abdeslam was reportedly part of the terror cell that executed the attacks yesterday in Brussels. In Brugges he was locked up in a cell two doors down from the cell of Mehdi Nemmouche, the terrorist who shot up the Jewish museum in Brussels last year. According to prison authorities Nemmouche kept Abdeslam abreast of the attacks in Brussels by passing on information he saw on the TV in his cell to TV-less Abdeslam. He also urged him not to talk to police... (ed.: I wish this was satire, but it isn't).

More news about the dead and missing is coming out:

One minute of silence was observed for the victims at noon in many places in Belgium.

A planned friendly soccer match between Belgium and Portugal planned for march 29th in Brussels was cancelled.

Brussels airport will likely remain closed for several more days for cleanup and repairs in the departures hall.

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