Two bombs were detonated on Tuesday at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem around 8 a.m. local time. Approximately an hour later there was a blast on a subway car in Maelbeek metro station, just steps away from the European Union headquarters (NYT). Belgium’s Health Minister Maggie De Block said 11 people were killed in the airport blast and 20 died in the subway station, leaving 270 injured (BBC). The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and the interior ministry raised the country’s terrorism alert to the highest level (Al Jazeera). The Belgian government had been on high alert for potential attacks since Friday with the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in November’s Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, who had associates in Belgium (CNN).
Two of the suicide bombers have been named as brothers Khalid, 27, and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29, Belgium nationals with criminal records for armed robbery, but investigators had not linked them to Islamist militants until Abdeslam’s arrest (Reuters). A third suspect was identified as Najim Laachraoui, 25, a suspected Islamic State recruiter and bomb-maker whose DNA was found on explosive belts used in the November Paris attack and at the Brussels safe house used by Abdeslam (Reuters). Some media reported his capture in the Brussels borough of Anderlecht, but this was later denied and he is believed to be on the run (Al Arabiya). Belgium has been a concern for counterterrorism officials due to the high number of Belgian foreign fighters that have joined ISIS and other terrorist organizations meaning Tuesday’s attack has rekindled debate about lagging European security operations (CNN).
Tags: Terrorism, Islamic State, European Union, Lisowski, Brussels, Belgium