Belgium in Mourning after Attacks

People gather around a memorial in Brussels following bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Belgium began three days of national mourning with citizens holding a minute of silence for the victims of the country’s deadliest terrorist attack.  At least 31 people were killed and 260 injured on Tuesday when attacks hit Brussels Airport and a subway station in the heart of the city, located near several European Union institutions.  The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Authorities identified two of the men they believe were involved in the attacks.  Belgium’s federal prosecutor said brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui were Belgian nationals with a known criminal history.  The prosecutor said that Ibrahim, 29, took part in the airport bombing.  Khalid, 27, is believed to have hit the Maelbeek subway station.

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Khalid el-Bakraoui (L), Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, (R)

At least 11 people died at the airport while 20 people were killed at the subway station.  The airport remains closed through Thursday according to officials.

Belgian broadcaster RTBF said Ibrahim was jailed in 2010 for firing at police.  Khalid was jailed in 2011 for carjacking.

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Ibrahim el-Bakraoui (middle). The man on the right has not been identified and is believed to be on the run. The man on the left has not been identified.

Authorities are looking for an additional suspect who they have not yet identified.  In the airport security camera surveillance picture released on Tuesday, officials said they were searching for the man dressed in the light-colored jacket and black hat.  It is believed that this man left behind a big bag at the airport before the two explosions occurred. He is thought to have fled the airport before the blasts.

Belgian federal prosecutor, Frédéric Van Leeuw, said that a bag carried by this suspect contained large amounts of explosives. That device did not detonate and was later handled by a bomb-disposal team.

Van Leeuw said the attack at the subway station occurred when the train was leaving Maelbeek station for Arts-Loi station when a bomb went off in the second car.

Van Leeuw added that investigators found 15 kilograms of TATP explosives at the house where the suspects are believed to have been at, possibly before leaving for the airport.  They also found a suitcase full of nails and screws.

Turkey said on Wednesday that it had detained and deported Ibrahim el-Bakraoui last year.

“One of the attackers in Brussels is an individual we detained in Gaziantep in June 2015 and deported. We reported the deportation to the Belgian Embassy in Ankara on July 14, 2015, but he was later set free,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.  “Belgium ignored our warning that this person is a foreign fighter.”

Turkey said el-Bakraoui was later released by Belgian authorities when it was founded “no links with terrorism” existed.

 

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Adelma Tapia Ruiz. Photograph: Facebook

As Belgium began to mourn the victims of Tuesday’s attack, one of the victims have been identified. Peruvian Adelma Tapia Ruiz was at the airport with her Belgian husband and twin four-year old daughters.  Fernando Tapia Coral, Tapia’s older brother, confirmed her death in a posting on Facebook. “It’s very complicated to describe this pain that we’re feeling at home, but as an older brother I know that I have to do it,” he wrote. “But even more incomprehensible is not being able to be close to her. And this tragedy today touched the doors of my family this morning in the Brussels airport when my sister Adelma Tapia died in the terrorist attack and was not able to survive this jihadist attack that we’ll never understand.”

In an interview Tapia Coral said: “The girls had been playing, and Christopher (Tapia’s husband) followed them out of the gate area when the explosion occurred suddenly. Christopher couldn’t find Adelma.”

The identities of the other victims have not been released.

 

 

 

Garret Pustay
World News-Politics Contributor

World News-Politics Contributor at The Atlas Times.


Avid follower of international news, with a particular interest on the Middle East. A frequent commuter between New York and the Middle East.


Twitter: @garretpustay


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