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At Least 30 Killed In Brussels Terror Attacks; ISIS Claims Responsibility

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Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016
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Here’s What’s Happening:

  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for terror attacks at two crowded commuter hubs in Belgium on Tuesday.
  • Two bombs were detonated at the Brussels Airport ​in Zaventem around 8 a.m. local time. Prosecutors believe these were the work of suicide bombers.
  • About an hour later there was a blast on a subway car as it pulled away from the Maelbeek metro station, just steps away from the European Union headquarters.
  • Belgian health minister said at least 11 were killed in the airport blasts and the Brussels mayor said at least 20 died in subway station attack. Dozens of people are injured.
  • Belgian police released an image from surveillance footage showing three men who officials said are suspected attackers. Police said they are searching for one of the three.
  • Brussels Airport will remain closed until at least Thursday night but public transportation in the city – including subways and buses – has resumed service.
  • Belgium has raised its terror threat level to “maximum.”
  • Tuesday’s attacks follow the arrest last week of Salah Abdeslam, who is a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris.

Brussels map

Belgian suicide bomber was wanted on terrorism charges by Interpol.

Khalid el-Bakraoui, one of the brothers named by the Belgian prosecutor as being a suicide bomber during the attacks, was the subject of an Interpol wanted notice, the New York Times revealed.

The “red notice” alert, which was published on the Interpol website in 2015, said Khalid was wanted in Belgium on terrorism charges.

The notice said he was born on Jan. 12, 1989 and spoke French and Arabic. It said he was of Belgian and Bahamian nationality.

The Times reported that his brother Ibrahim did not appear on the Interpol website.

Khalid el-Bakraoui Interpol
Khalid el-Bakraoui Interpol

Belgian Federal Prosecutor gives live press conference with latest on investigation.

Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw has just given a live press conference in French.

He said the death toll has now reached 31 and 261 people have been injured.

He confirmed Ibrahim el-Bakraoui was pictured in the middle of the CCTV footage released by police and his brother Khalid was the bomber at Maelbeek Metro.

Here is what he said according to a Sky News’ translation:

A photo showing the three suspects has been issued and one of them has been identified as Ibrahim el-Bakraoui with fingerprints. The second one on left has not been identified.

“The third man in a hat has not been identified and is still on the run, his bomb did not explode and contained the biggest charge.

“A taxi driver told police he took the three people to the airport and we went to the address in Schaerbeek and found 30 liters of oxygenated water and a case full of nails and equipment for bomb making.

“Investigators also found a computer containing the will of Brahim. One person was brought in for questioning from Schaerbeek last night and is now being investigated by police. Another was brought in and freed shortly are being interrogated.

The explosion in Maelbeek happened within the second branch of the track and this was a question of Khalid el-Bakraoui — a Belgian national. Both of these people (Ibrahim and Khalid) had heavy police files, not connected with crimes they committed.

It is not desirable to give any further information at the moment.

Brussels 1
Photo: France24

Crowds gather to hold minute’s silence across Brussels.

Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images


French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, King Philippe of Belgium, European Union Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel hold a minute of silence with EU commissioners at the EU headquarters. Thierry Charlier / AFP / Getty Images
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, King Philippe of Belgium, European Union Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel hold a minute of silence with EU commissioners at the EU headquarters. Thierry Charlier / AFP / Getty Images


Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images

Minute’s silence to be held across Brussels in memory of the victims.

A minute’s silence is about to begin at locations across Brussels (noon local time). The government has asked the public to observe the silence in memory of the victims of yesterday’s attacks.

A crowd has begun to gather in a square outside the Brussels Stock Exchange in the city centre.

Belgium’s royal family and Prime Minister Charles Michel will participate at the Schuman roundabout in Brussels.

Photo: RTBF
Photo: RTBF

U.K. Prime Minister says one British citizen is missing after the Brussels attacks and four others were injured.

At a security meeting Wednesday morning, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed four Britons had been injured in the Brussels attacks. One other man remains missing.

“We are concerned about one missing British national and we are in close contact with the Belgian authorities. We are aware of four British nationals who were injured in the attacks — three are being treated in hospital, one has already been discharged. Our embassy staff are working to assist all British nationals affected,” Cameron said.

“In terms of travel advice, we continue to advise people to follow the advice of the Belgian authorities. Therefore we are no longer advising against travel to Brussels. British nationals in Belgium should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.

“Here in the UK, we stepped up the security presence at a number of locations across the country yesterday and we will maintain this in the coming days. The national threat level remains at ‘severe’ (an attack is highly likely) and the public are advised to be ‘alert but not alarmed’.”

The U.K. government will observe a minute’s silence at 11 a.m. local time, he added.

Photo: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images
Photo: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Belgian news site retracts story claiming suspect Najim Laachraoui had been arrested.

Belgian news site reported earlier that Najim Laachraoui had been arrested by Belgian police Wednesday morning. They have now retracted this assertion and said “contrary to what we announced, the man arrested in Anderlecht was not Najim Laachraoui.”

Local media have reported that a suspect has been arrested this morning but there has been no official confirmation. A press conference will be held at 1 p.m. local time. reported earlier today that the third man pictured in CCTV from Brussels Airport was Laachraoui.

Laachraoui was named by authorities Monday as being an accomplice to arrested Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Prosecutors said he was also known by the alias Soufiane Kayal.

In a statement released at the time, they said he had been using false IDs and that his DNA had been found in houses used by the suspected jihadi network.

Brussels 6

Belgian media say they have identified two of the attackers pictured in CCTV.

Belgian broadcaster RTBF has identified two of the Brussels attackers as brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.

RTBF reported a police source had confirmed to them that the brothers were known to police for links to organized crime.

The identifications published by RTBF have not been confirmed by police or authorities publicly at this time.

First victim in Brussels attacks officially identified as Peruvian woman

Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz Via
Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz Via

Peru’s foreign ministry announced Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz, 37, was killed in the attack at Brussels Airport.

Fernando Tapia, the woman’s brother, told a Peruvian radio station she was at the airport Tuesday morning to catch a flight to New York, the Associated Press reported.

Her Belgian husband, Christophe Delcambe, and their twin 4-year-old daughters, Maureen and Alondra, had left the area where the explosions occurred and were unhurt.

In a statement, the Peruvian government said the country’s consulate in Brussels was in contact with her family to provide them with support and assistance.

Tip from taxi driver led Belgian authorities to bomb, ISIS flag

Brussels 9
Photo: Christian Hartmann

A tip from a taxi driver who transported the three suspected bombers to Brussels Airport Tuesday morning later led authorities to a home where they found a bomb, chemicals, and an ISIS flag, according to local reports.

The driver reportedly told authorities the three men were upset with him because there wasn’t enough room in his cab for all of their luggage, forcing the men to leave some of their bags behind.

Unnamed U.S. officials also told CNN the taxi driver recognized the men after authorities released surveillance images.

Local reports said the driver was able to remember the address where he picked up the three men before dropping them off at the airport.

The tip led investigators to Schaerbeek, the district in Brussels where authorities found a bomb with nails and chemicals.

Authorities release new images of suspected Brussels Airport attackers

Brussels suspectBrussels Suspect 2

Authorities released additional images late Tuesday of the three men suspected in the deadly attack on Belgium’s Brussels Airport.

Police believe the two men in dark shirts detonated their bombs near a flight check-in desk, while the third man, in a khaki jacket, is the subject of an intense manhunt.

U.S. State Department issues travel alert for all of Europe

The State Department’s travel alert, issued Tuesday following the Brussels attacks, warned of “potential risks” throughout Europe. Belgium was listed with a Level 4 (maximum) threat rating for a “serious and imminent attack.”

Terrorists are planning “near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation,” the State Department said. Travelers are advised to be cautious and, if in Brussels, reach out to U.S. officials.

The alert is significant for covering the entire continent and is in effect until June 20.

Previous recent travel alerts and warnings have covered specific countries, such as Turkey, the Republic of Congo, and Iran.

The State Department had previously issued a worldwide caution notice on March 3 that warned of violence from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terror organizations.

BuzzFeed reporters observed hundreds of people attending vigils in Brussels late into the night

The vigils and makeshift memorials in Brussels were in addition to the tributes and displays of solidarity that went up across the world, from Rome to Dubai.

Brussels Vigil

The scenes in Brussels were similar to those in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris last year, first on Charlie Hebdo’s office in January and then in November at multiple locations.

But several people Tuesday night told BuzzFeed News that Brussels was different.

Brussels Vigil 2

“This is not like Paris,” one attendee said.

Obama orders American flag to be flown at half-staff after Brussels attacks

Brussels White House

President Obama has ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff at the White House and all public buildings as a sign of respect and solidarity with the victims of the Brussels attack.

“The American people stand with the people of Brussels,” the proclamation signed by Obama read. “We will do whatever it takes, working with nations and peoples around the world, to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, and to go after terrorists who threaten our people.”

The flag will also remain at half-staff until Saturday at U.S. embassies and consular offices across the world.


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