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Brussels attacks: latest updates, March 24

Brussels attacks: latest updates, March 24

Latest headlines

Six people arrested in Brussels raids

Dutch justice minister says Dutch authorities were not told why Ibrahim El Bakraoui had been flown from Turkey

Belgium has lowered its security threat level to level 3, the second-highest level

Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport will remain closed until Monday at the earliest

Salah Abdeslam will not fight extradition to France, lawyer says he knew nothing of Brussels attacks

Belgium confirms metro bomber’s link to Paris attacks

Belgian and French media reports possible fifth suspect – a person seen on CCTV carrying a large bag in the metro

Belgian ministers resignations rejected by prime minister

Najim Laachroui reported to be the second airport suicide bomber, not confirmed by Belgian authorities


Latest updates

Six people arrested in Brussels raids

At least six people were arrested in Brussels on Thursday night in police raids connected to Tuesday’s attacks.

Three people were arrested outside the prosecutor’s office in the centre of Brussels, two people were arrested in Jette, and one other was arrested elsewhere in the Belgian capital. No charges have been made, and it is expected that final decisions on charging the suspects will be made on Friday.

The Guardian reported that police had sealed off a large area of Schaerbeek, and attention seemed to be focusing on one building in the district around midnight. RTBF reported that by 1 a.m. searches appeared limited to number 20, Rue du Pavilion.

Dutch authorities not told why Ibrahim El Bakraoui was deported from Turkey

Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur said authorities were not told why Ibrahim El Bakraoui had been flown from Turkey and had no reason to detain him, RTL reports.

Earlier, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper published a letter from Turkish officials to the Dutch embassy in Turkey. The letter shows that two people were sent to Amsterdam on July 14, 2015, but does not say why the pair were sent to the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, citing unnamed Turkish officials, euronews is reporting Ibrahim El Bakraoui was deported from Turkey twice in 2015. This has not been confirmed by Turkey.

Threat level lowered

Belgium’s interior minister says the country has lowered it’s security threat level to level 3, the second-highest level.

Interior minister Jan Jambon said on RTL television the decision was taken on the advice of the body that evaluates terror threats, the Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM).

Airport closure

Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport will remain closed for scheduled passenger flights until Monday at the earliest. The airport posted information for travelers on its website, including information about the recovery of luggage. The airport reopened for cargo and private planes on Thursday.

Belgium confirms metro bomber’s link to Paris attacks
Khalid El Bakraoui
Khalid El Bakraoui

Belgian prosecutors confirmed on Thursday they issued an international arrest warrant in December for Khalid El Bakraoui, the man who blew himself up on an underground train in Brussels on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

A statement said El Bakraoui was suspected of using a false identity to rent a safe house in Charleroi, about 65 km (40 miles) south of Brussels. The apartment was used by the militant cell that carried out the Paris attacks.

Belgian police searched the property on December 9 and found fingerprints belonging to two Paris attackers – Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Bilal Hadfi. An international and European arrest warrant was issued on December 11.

The New York Times reports the alias he used was Ibrahim Maaroufi.

Salah Abdeslam will not fight extradition to France

Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer, Sven Mary, said Abdeslam will no longer oppose his extradition and wants to be transferred to France to face charges there.

After his arrest, Abdeslam said that he would oppose his extradition to France.

Mary also said Abdeslam said he knew nothing about the Brussels attacks.

Before his capture in Brussels on March 18, Abdeslam was Europe’s most wanted man. He was on the run for four months after the November Paris attacks, which killed 130 people. He is believed to be the last man remaining from the cell of 10 who carried out the attacks.

A fifth attacker?
Composite sketch released by police of a possible second Brussels metro suspect
Composite sketch released by police of a possible second Brussels metro suspect

Le Monde, RTBF and France 24 say Belgian police are trying to identify a man seen carrying a large bag and considered a possible fifth attacker. It is reported that he was filmed talking to metro train bomber Khalid El Bakraoui on the day of the attack.

Ministerial resignations rejected

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens offered to resign, but this was rejected by Prime Minister Charles Michel, Belgian media reports.

Main image: Gathering at the Bourse, Brussels, in honor of victims of terrorism Valentina Calà/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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