WHAT WE KNOW

  • Brussels Airport and a metro station devastated by three explosions yesterday
     
  • The death toll was reported as 34 and two of the perpetrators are dead with a third on the run
     
  • The attackers struck about 8am local time at American Airlines check-in counters
  • Flights across Europe have been thrown into chaos
     
  • Security increased across Europe as French bolster monitoring of borders

DAY TWO: BELGIAN media reports that the main suspect and alleged chief bomb maker behind the Brussels attacks remains at large. 

Earlier The Independent reported that Brussels Police had told local media Najim Laachraoui had been taken into custody, now, it appears those reports were false.

The suspected Isis bomb maker believed to be behind the terror attacks that killed more than 30 people in Brussels has been arrested in Belgium, a newspaper has reported.

La Derniere Heure quoted anonymous police sources saying that Najim Laachraoui had been detained in the city of Anderlecht on Wednesday morning.

Laachraoui was captured on CCTV at Brussels Airport with two suicide bombers, prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said.

The suitcase he was wheeling through the terminal on a luggage trolley carried the largest explosive charge but did not go off and was deactivated by the army.

Two more suitcases left at the address the trio were picked up from in a taxi were found to contain explosives, nails and screws, suggesting a far larger death toll was planned.

One of the men has been identified as Brahim el-Bakraoui, whose brother Khalid is reported to have blown himself up at Maalbeek Metro station, while the name of the third man pictured on the left is unknown.

 

EARLIER: Two brothers have been named by local media as the suicide bombers behind the Brussels Airport attacks that killed at least 34 people and injured up to 100.

Belgium's state broadcaster RTBF has named Khalid and Ibrahim, also known as Brahim, el-Bakraoui as the suspected Isis militantswho blew themselves up amid crowds in the busy departures terminal.

An alert was put out for the pair following a police raid in the Brussels suburb of Forest last week where two men escaped as a gunman battled with officers before being shot dead.

Belgium's federal prosecutor named the el-Bakraoui brothers as the hunt continued after police lost the suspects in a chase over rooftops.

A Kalashnikov, book about Salafism and Isis flag was found alongside a large quantity of ammunition in the flat, which Khalid was suspected of renting under a false identity.

Khalid was wanted on suspicion of terror offences, Belgian media reported, and was previously jailed for nine years after shooting at police during a robbery.

His brother was imprisoned in 2011, a year later, for car-jackings,La Libre reported.

The two men, aged 27 and 30, are believed to be the two suicide bombers who detonated their vests inside Brussels Airport's busy departures terminal on Tuesday morning.

Police are still hunting a third suspected accomplice pictured with them on CCTV, named by La Derniere Heure newspaper as Najim Laachraoui.

Under his alias Soufiane Kayal, the 25-year-old had been wanted for months as a suspect bomb-maker linked to the Paris attacks after his DNA was found alongside that of the terrorists who carried out the massacres at a safe house where traces of explosives and suicide belts were found.

He rented one of the hide-outs, in Auvelais, where the cell prepared for the massacres that would kill 130 people in the French capital.

Laachraoui was picked up in Budapest by Salah Abdeslam, possibly making his way back from Syria, on 9 September alongside Mohamed Belkaid, the 35-year-old Algerian killed by police in Forest on 15 March.

The net has been tightening on the remaining accomplices following Belkaid's death and Abdeslam's eventual arrest on Friday and there was speculation that Tuesday's attacks were either an act of revenge or the fulfilment of plots Abdeslam claimed had already been hatched.

The airport explosions, followed little over an hour later by another blast at a Metro station, left at least 31 dead and 250 wounded.

UPDATE: 2PM 

The first images of the victims of the Brussels bombings are starting to emerge. Adelma Tapia Ruiz was a Peruvian woman who died at the airport while travelling with her Belgian husband and two daughters. 

 

Adelma Tapia Ruiz source: Facebook
Adelma Tapia Ruiz source: Facebook

The news comes as the taxi driver who drove the terrorists to the airport tells how they were forced to leave two of the five suitcases they were carrying behind - as they wouldn't fit in his cab. 

Acting on information from the taxi driver police earlier raided the pickup address where they found an ISIS flag and bomb making materials. 

Authorities say 34 people are dead and more than were injured in the attacks.

UPDATE: 6AM

A major manhunt is underway for an ISIS suspect in a white coat and black hat who fled Brussels Airport after two explosions ripped through the terminal in a suicide bomb attack.

Police issued a wanted notice for the man who was seen on CCTV pushing a luggage trolley through the check-in area with two other suspects minutes before the blasts.

His alleged accomplices were wearing black gloves on their left hands, which security sources say would have hidden the triggers for their explosive vests.

An image released by Belgian Federal Police shows the three suspects in the Brussels Airport attacks, as captured by CCTV.
An image released by Belgian Federal Police shows the three suspects in the Brussels Airport attacks, as captured by CCTV.

The two men blew themselves up while the third suspect is believed to have left a nail bomb and fled.

It is not known if the fugitive then sped to Maelbeek station to carry out an attack there just 79 minutes later.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have killed 34 people and injured close to 200 others.

Anti-police terror police swooped on a number of suspects in the hours after the attacks as the Belgian Foreign Ministry has confirmed they believe some of the terrorists involved are "still at large".
 

At least two people in Brussels were arrested outside the city's North railway station, a mile from the Maelbeek subway.

A third suspect has been arrested on a train near Amsterdam and a suspect package at Gard du Nord in Paris delayed Eurostar services this afternoon.

Another man was also taken into custody at by armed police at Brussels South railway station near the suburb of Schaerbeek.

A news agency affiliated with Isis put out a statement, saying the terror group had carried out the attacks. AMAQ agency said: "Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital Brussels."
 

Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said that wo of the three men in the CCTV photo "very likely committed a suicide attack".

He said ISIS's claim of responsibility had not yet been formally verified, adding that bit was still "too early to make a direct connection between the attacks in Paris [in November] and today's attacks".

There were several raids under way across the country, and he warned media of the risks of reporting details of active operations.

A house search in the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek has "led to the discovery of an explosive device containing among other things nails." Investigators also found chemical products and an Isis (Islamic State) flag.

He said that several explosions heard at the airport after the initial two blasts were controlled detonations by security forces. He warned that there may yet be more controlled detonations of suspect packages.

 

2:45AM: FIRST GLIMPSE OF SUSPECTS INVOLVED IN BOMBINGS

Belgian Police have released CCTV images of three alleged suspects and it's believed two of them may be directly involved in the Brussels bombings.

The Independent reports that police are appealing for help in identifying the man in the white coat, who may have information about the attack on Zaventem airport. 

CNN reports that the fact the other two men are wearing a glove on just one hand suggests they may be suicide bombers. 

It's being said that the gloves may contain a detonator switch which sets off a suicide bomb when pressure is relieved. 

So, even if the men were shot when their hand lost their grip on the luggage carts the bombs would go off. 

 

2:10AM: ISIS claims responsibility for explosion 

 ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, according to several major news outlets. 

Media monitoring service Site Intel says the ISIS affiliated media outlet Amaq has issued a statement claiming ISIS fighters were responsible. 

Although the number of deaths referred to in the statement is out of step with confirmed information The Guardian and The Independent have treated the information as legitimate.

The Independent reports that Twitter is lighting up with gleeful messages from ISIS supporters. 

"What a beautiful day today," one man wrote, calling the victims "Belgium supporters" who did not count as civilians.

"F***. Belgium Belgium wanted to bomb the Islamic state Now enjoy what your hands have sown.

"A lot of duas [prayers] were answered today."

 

EARLIER: AT least 31 people are feared dead and many wounded after three large explosions - two at Brussels Airport and one at a Metro station in the Belgian capital, according to latest reports.

Government sources in Belgium have reportedly said 11 people died in two separate bomb blasts at the city's airport and then as many as 20 died after a subsequent attack on a metro station. 

Witnesses said the airport blasts happened shortly before 8am local time in the departure hall near the check-in desks for American Airlines and Brussels Airlines.

 


Little over an hour later, another explosion was reported at the Maalbeek (Maelbeek) station, near the European Council headquarters and other EU buildings. The capital's entire public transport system was being shut down.

The explosion reportedly took place in the Departures lounge, beyond airport security areas.

Several news agencies have reported that witnesses saying they heard shouting in Arabic just before the attack.

 

A Sky News journalist who was checking in at the time said he heard two very large explosions before being moved away from the area and that speculation of a terror attack was spreading.

An American couple, Andrew and Denise Brandt, said they felt the blast "like a wave" as they shopped on the other side of security barriers, before hundreds of people started running towards them.

Footage showed passengers running from the terminal building as smoke poured through smashed windows.

The airport, which was being evacuated, has been closed to all departures and arrivals as investigations continue. Rail services have been suspended.

In statement a spokesman for the said the entire facility was been treated as a crime scene and the public prosecutor and police would be picking over it. 

"Brussels Airport is fully collaborating with the judicial and police services. Forensic investigation by the public prosecutor and the police in the terminal is still underway," the statement read.

"Until the investigation is complete, nobody is allowed to enter the departures hall, including the airport staff."

The Belgian Prosecutor has reportedly confirmed at least one of the airport explosions was the result of a suicide bomb. 

An unused bomb belt was located in the airport about three house after the attacks and detonated by Belgian police. 

A spokesperson for Brussels Airport said: "All airport operations have been suspended until further notice.Passengers that are still located in other area's in the airport are asked to remain calm and wait for further information."

 

French police have been deployed to monitor the nation's shared borders and in the UK authorities have sent extra security forces to transport facilities. 

French President François Hollande has spoken out saying the attack shows more nations should deploy forces to Syria.

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks last year French fighter jets were deployed to bomb the middle eastern nation.

"Every single one of us should be conscious that we should unite, today we are with Belgium, yesterday it was France," Mr Hollande said.

"This war against terrorism should be taken in a calm and lucid and determined way because it will be a long war."

READ MORE: World Leaders Respond to the Brussels attacks

The Belgian interior minister, Jan Jambon, said the national terror alert would be raised to its maximum level in the wake of the explosions, suggesting that authorities believe they were an attack.

Charles Michel, the Prime Minister, said the government was following the situation "minute by the minute" and that victims and bystanders at the airport were the priority.

Brussels has been under increased security measures since November's Paris attacks and has seen several operations in recent weeks linked to the hunt for Salah Abdeslam, who was caught on Friday.

Belgium's national crisis centre said all Metro stations, trains and public transport systems were being shut down in Brussels, urging residents to stay at home.
 

 

Airports across Europe were increasing precautions this morning, including at Gatwick and Heathrow, which said there would be a "high visibility" police presence.

David Cameron said he would be chairing an emergency Cobra meeting with senior ministers and advisers later on Tuesday morning.

The official threat to the UK from international terrorism has stood at "severe" - indicating that an attack is "highly likely'' - since August 2014.



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