Belgium names suicide bombers

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Belgium held a minute’s silence at midday (11:00 GMT) yesterday.

Belgium’s king and queen visited the airport and met some of the 260 injured in the hospital.

The black glove-wearing suicide bombers, who killed 14 people and maimed more than 100 at a Brussels airport, have been named as Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui.

The third man seen wheeling heavy bags into the airport, wearing a goatee, spectacles and fishing hat, was named by intelligence sources as Najim Laachraoui, a 24-year-old suspected ISIS commander, who reportedly made the bombs used in the Paris outrage last November.

Laachraoui was identified by his DNA found at several hideouts used by the November Paris attackers, as well as on explosive materials used during the November attacks on Paris. There has been massive manhunt in Belgium as police search for a suspected terrorist believed to have escaped the Brussels bombings after the explosives he was carrying did not detonate. Raids continued across the city yesterday.

According to reports, a taxi driver came forward after recognising CCTV images of the three suspects as men he picked up from an apartment block and dropped off at the airport.

Belgian police led a raid on the apartment block in Schaerbeek, where they discovered an explosive device filled with nails, as well as an ISIS flag and chemicals.

The driver remembered the men had too much luggage to fit into his vehicle and were forced to leave some behind, a Belgian news outlet reported. The driver was also not allowed to assist the bombers in unloading luggage upon arrival at the airport.

Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, is suspected to have rented a house under a false name in the Forest suburb of Brussels which was raided by police last week in connection with the Paris attacks.

Mohamed Belkaid, a key member of the Paris plot, who had accompanied Salah Abdeslam on a trip to Hungary and who transferred cash to the plot’s mastermind, was killed in earlier raid. An ISIS flag was found next to him. Two other suspects escaped.

According to media report, both El Bakraoui brothers were known to the police.

Yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Turkish authorities detained and deported Ibrahim El Bakraoui last June, and that his country notified Belgian and Dutch security officials that the repatriated suspect was a militant.

Ibrahim was not arrested based on specific intelligence provided from Europe, but because he was suspected to have a link with “foreign fighter networks”, according to Turkish police investigation.

The Belgian authorities, Turkish officials said, were informed of his arrest, but it was learnt that Belgium claimed not to have specific information linking the suspect to terrorism.

In October 2010, Ibrahim was sentenced to nine years in prison for opening fire on police with a Kalashnikov rifle during an armed robbery on a stockbroker.

Khalid was sentenced to five years probation in February 2011 for car-jackings. He was found to have Kalashnikovs when arrested.

He is now one of Europe’s most wanted men who gave police the slip last year when he returned from Syria.

More than 300 persons were injured in the Tuesday attacks, office of Belgian Health minister Maggie de Block, said yesterday. 61 people were in intensive care last night, the Health Ministry officials said, adding: “150 people are still being treated in hospitals across the city.”

It was learnt that four victims remain unidentified, as they are either in a coma or are being kept under a medically-induced coma.

Grand Place of Belgium in Brussels, yesterday, became a focal point for grief, solidarity and resistance to the country’s worst terror atrocity, as messages of support poured in from around the world.

Thousands of people, old and young alike, flocked to the picturesque square near central Brussels there as night fell. They left flowers, candles and even beer bottles, while scores scrawled colourful measures on the paving stones, many in English, paying tribute to the victims and calling for love and unity.

Victims of the attacks included commuters heading to work and travelers setting off on long-anticipated vacations. In a city that’s home to international institutions including the European Union and NATO, they came from Belgium and around the world.

The Nation News

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