Brussels attacks – The aftermath


After the twin attacks on Brussels’ airport and metro station on Tuesday morning (22 March), the death toll stands at 31 confirmed dead, with more than injured.

Key facts:

  • The double attack left 31 dead and 316 remain hospitalised, including 63 in serious condition.
  • The alert level of the terrorist threat has been brought down to 3.
  • Police are looking for a second suspect in connection with the suicide bombing of metro Maelbeek. A man was seen with a big bag next to the kamikaze on CCTV footage.
  • Jan Jambon (Minister of Interior) and Koen Goens (Minister of Justice), under pressure because of Turkey’s allegations that it had earlier signaled Ibrahim El Bakraoui (one of the kamikazes) as a dangerous individual linked to jihadist activities, submitted their resignations to the Prime Minister. Charles Michel has refused them, arguing that present circumstances demand that they both remain in office.
  • The first victim of the attacks has been named – Adelma Tapia Ruiz, a 36-year old Peruvian woman who died at the airport. Names of other victims and some of the pictured survivors have also started to emerge.
  • Contrary to what happened in November, following the Paris attacks, Brussels is not under a lockdown: schools, universities, shopping centers, regional and municipal authorities remain open.
  • Most railway stations in Brussels are open since Wednesday morning, with passengers being systematically searched, and all metro lines and  buses are now running in the Belgian capital, although some stations are not yet served.
  • Zaventem airport will remain closed until Sunday, and all flights are being diverted to other Belgian and international airports.
  • The EU institutions are closed Good Friday and Easter Monday, and reopen on Tuesday.
Matthew Tempest 29/03/201617:06

AFP are reporting that it could be “months” before Brussels airport fully reopeds, following the extensive damage to the departures hall.

A test-run of the temporary measures installed to help passengers check in is being road-tested today (Tuesday) by some 800 airport staff, in the hope that at least some services can be resumed on Wednesday.

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201613:30

Commission deplores the death of Patricia Rizzo

Commission said one of its officials died in the Brussels attacks (at Maalbeek metro station). It’s Patricia Rizzo, 48, who had been working in Brussels for several months for the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Three Commission officials are treated for injuries (also victims of the Maalbeek blast). They are recovering. The Commission has no knowledge of victims from other EU institutions.

James Crisp 29/03/201611:43

Charlie Hebdo, a victim of terror itself, has a typically dark take on the attacks. The front page features popular Belgian singer Stromae asking “Papa where are you?”, a reference to one of his hits. Various body parts respond, “I am here”.

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201611:10

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201607:52

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201620:53

Manhunt resumes for the third suspect in the Brussels airport bombing after the sole suspect charged in the attacks was released for lack of evidence. Belgian police released a video of a mysterious man in a dark hat seen in the company of the bombers who attacked Brussels Airport, indicating that he is still at large.

“Police are seeking to identify this man,” the Belgian Federal Police’s website reportedly said today.

The man who was released, Fayçal Cheffou, was among those taken into custody and facing preliminary terror charges. Belgian media had claimed the man was the mysterious suspect in the white jacket and dark hat spotted with the two bombers at the airport the morning of the attacks.

But the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s office saidd that new evidence uncovered by investigators revealed there were no grounds to keep Fayçal Cheffou in custody and he was released.

The others detained on suspicion of terrorist activity, according to BBC, include:

Salah Abdeslam – arrested on 18 March in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. Key suspect in the Paris attacks last November. Charged with “terrorist murder”

‘Amine Choukri’ – arrested on 18 March with Abdeslam, real name not yet known. Also used the alias Monir Ahmed Alaaj. Documented by German police near Ulm in a car with Abdeslam last October. Charged with “terrorist murder” over the Paris attacks

Rabah N – arrested on 25 March and charged with participating in terrorist activities in relation to a foiled plot to attack Paris

Abderamane A – shot in the leg and arrested on 25 March at a tram stop in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels. Charged in relation to the foiled plot to attack Paris. Jailed for seven years in France in 2005 and banned from entering France for life aiding in the assassination of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in 2001.

Aboubakar A – arrested on 24 March in a car in Brussels, charged with participating in terrorist activities

Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O – arrested during raids on 27 March and charged with belonging to a terrorist group

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201614:01

Political scientist José Ignacio Torreblanca’s clear analysis is worth reading: Each terrorist attack on European soil runs according to a plot as predictable as it is depressing: while the terrorists target Europe as a whole, Europe’s countries respond as individuals, argues Torreblanca. Instead of raising the solidarity clause in article 222 of the Treaty, which would have required a collective and coordinated response by the European Union, the French government preferred to use article 42, which put the response into intergovernmental hands and outside of the EU’s institutions.

To read on:

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:49

Death toll rises to 35. Four more people died in the hospital.

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:45

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:30

Where do we stand on Monday (28 March) at midday?

Belgium’s Crisis Centre has revised the death toll from last Tuesday’s bomb blasts at Brussels airport and on a rush-hour metro to 34 dead, including the three attackers.

Previously, it had said 31 people were killed, including the attackers, and more than 300 people were injured.

It also said on its website it had identified 28 of the victims. Of these, 15 died at the airport of whom six were Belgian and nine were foreign nationals.

The 13 victims of the metro blast included 10 Belgians and three foreign nationals.

The foreigners killed in the attacks include British, Italian, Chinese, Dutch, French, Germans, Swedish and U.S. nationals.

Belgian police carried out 13 more raids on Sunday. Nine people were questioned, with five of them later being released.

Amid fears of further attacks, police swooped in and around Brussels and Antwerp.

There has been criticism that Europe’s not done enough to share intelligence about suspected Islamist militants, but it appears now that cooperation is deepening, Euronews reports.

Dutch anti-terrorism police arrested a 32-year-old man in Rotterdam on Sunday. He is suspected of preparing an attack on France.

Three other people were also detained, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile, in Italy,

police have released a picture of Algerian national Djamal Eddine Quali, who is suspected of making documents for militants linked to the Brussels bombings. He was arrested on Saturday near Salerno, in southern Italy (please see below for further details)

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:15

After Brussels, Lahore ..

A suicide bomber, who attacked a park thronging with families celebrating Easter, killed at least 72 people in Pakistan, with children among the dead.

More than 200 people were hurt when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children’s play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied.

Witnesses described children screaming as people carried the injured in their arms, while frantic relatives searched for loved ones.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:51

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:33

Brussels police fired water cannons at far-right protesters who took over the square where a peace rally was held to commemorate the victims of the recent attacks. According to public broadcaster RTBF, between 500 and 1,000 people gathered at at Place de la Bourse, a memorial site for the victims of the attacks, when men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas interrupted the rally.