Brussels attacks: Airport suicide bombers were brothers known to police, state media reports

Brussels attacks: Airport suicide bombers were brothers known to police, state media reports

Brussels attacks: Airport suicide bombers were brothers known to police, state media reports

Updated 24 March 2016, 13:30 AEDT

Two suicide bombers who carried out the Brussels Airport attacks are believed to be brothers who were being sought for links with the prime suspect in the Paris attacks, according to Belgian state media.

Two suicide bombers who carried out the Brussels Airport attacks are believed to be brothers who were being sought for links with Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the Paris attacks, state broadcaster RTBF said, citing police sources.

Key points:

  • Brothers linked to Abdeslam — Paris attacks prime suspect arrested last week
  • Brothers, Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, believed to be two men on left of CCTV image
  • Manhunt underway for Najim Laachraoui, on the right of image

RTBF named the two as Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, saying Khalid last week rented under a false name an apartment in Brussels where police later found fingerprints belonging to Abdeslam, who was arrested on Saturday.

Investigators had also found an Islamic State flag, an assault rifle, and detonators.

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How the attacks unfolded

The Belgian capital has been rocked by a string of deadly attacks that have left at least 34 people dead.






The first target was the departure lounge at Brussels airport



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  • Two explosions rocked the lounge at about 8:00am local time, shattering windows, killing 14 people and sending travellers fleeing in panic.
  • As the airport was evacuated reports emerge that two terrorists are behind the destruction.
  • Local media reported another undetonated bomb was found at the airport, along with an assault rifle.

Shortly after the airport attack, a bomb exploded at a metro station in central Brussels



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  • The blast hit as the Maelbeek station was full of commuters on their way to work.
  • At least 20 people were killed in the attack, which took place metres from the European Commission headquarters.
  • Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level, locals were warned to stay inside and security is being boosted across Europe.

An unexploded bomb was discovered by police in a house in Schaerbeek


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  • Belgian police released a photo of the three people they believe are behind the attacks.
  • The two wearing black are thought to have died in the attacks, while the third man is still at large.
  • After seeing the photo a taxi-driver remembered picking the men up from an address at Schaerbeek, not far from where the metro bomb detonated.


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  • Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
  • The attacks came just four days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be one of the masterminds of the November Paris attacks.
  • Belgian police had been on the lookout for revenge attacks after Abdeslam's arrest.

Belgium has declared three days of mourning after bomb attacks ripped through the capital's airport and the Maelbeek underground train station, killing 34, with Islamic State claiming responsibility. More than 200 people were injured.

A Brussels taxi driver helped lead Belgian authorities to a third, unexploded, bomb at the airport, and then led police to an apartment where he picked up the suspected attackers the morning of the explosions, according to Belgian media.

An image from an airport security camera shows the two brothers and a third man pushing luggage trolleys at the airport shortly before two bombs exploded, killing 14 people.

After seeing the photo, the taxi driver remembered picking the men up from an address at Schaerbeek, not far from the site of the metro bombing, which killed another 20 people.

What's it like in Brussels now?


I think there's a rather sombre feel to the city, as you would imagine. But it's far busier than I had thought it would be.

I was here during the city's lockdown last November and the streets were completely empty.

This time round, given it's just 24 hours after the attacks, the buses are full, the airport might still be closed but people seem to be heading back to work.

We are starting to hear some of the terrible stories from yesterday, the identities of people who were the victims of these attacks including a Peruvian woman who was a resident here in Brussels.

She was at the airport heading to New York with her husband and twin daughters, three-year-old girls. They survived. She was killed.

The nation is about to begin three days of national mourning, and in a few hours there will be a minute's silence.

-Europe correspondent Lisa Millar

A police source told AFP on Tuesday (local time) the man in the middle of the three seen in the airport security footage could be Brahim.

Belgian anti-terror police are carrying out raids across the country in the hunt for the third suspect in the image, Najim Laachraoui, 25, believed to be on the run.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said searches were taking place "in several parts of the country".

Following the attacks, police found a bomb and an Islamic State flag during a house search in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek, public broadcaster VRT said.

"The searches that took place in the Schaerbeek found an explosive device containing, among other things, nails," federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said in a statement.

"A photograph of three male suspects was taken at [the airport]. Two of them seem to have committed suicide attacks. The third, wearing a light-coloured jacket and a hat, is actively being sought."

The search follows a wanted notice issued by a judge on Monday for Laachraoui, who had travelled to Hungary in September with Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam.

Mohamen Abrini, 31, a Belgian of Moroccan heritage and a childhood friend of Abdeslam, is also on the run.

Investigators believe Abrini and Laachraoui were likely plotting new attacks and may have brought them forward after Abdeslam's arrest, to avoid their own capture.

Abrini was caught on camera with Abdeslam at petrol stations in France two days before the Paris attacks last November.

ABC/wires