Belgium charged more suspects in expanding counter-terrorism probes as the death toll rose in last week’s suicide bombings in Brussels and the airport was set to decide when it will re-open.
The Health Ministry said 35 people died in the March 22 attacks at the airport’s departures hall and at a downtown subway station. The federal crisis center said 28 of the victims have been positively identified, with 12 foreigners among them.
Following raids in several parts of the country on Sunday, three suspects identified as Yassine A., de Mohamed B. and de Aboubaker O. were charged with participating in a terrorist group, the federal prosecutors office said in statement on Monday. A fourth suspect was released.
Terrorism probes advanced across Europe amid fears of further attacks, with suspects arrested in Italy and the Netherlands. Belgian prosecutors said late Sunday that an Algerian man being held in Italy is suspected of participating in a ring that produced falsified documents for some of the men responsible for last November’s attacks in Paris and “probably also by Salah Abdeslam,” the only surviving suspect in the assaults. Abdeslam has been in Belgian custody since March 18.
The prosecutors are looking into whether the counterfeiters also provided fake documents to the perpetrators of the attacks in the Belgian capital. The Algerian suspect, detained in Salerno on Saturday under a European arrest warrant requested by Belgium, was identified by Ansa news agency as Djamal Eddine Ouali.
Dutch police on Sunday arrested a 32-year-old Frenchman in Rotterdam on suspicion of involvement in planning a terrorist attack, Belga reported, citing prosecutors. German police earlier arrested two men in connection with the Brussels attacks.
Meanwhile, Belgian riot police used water cannons to push back hundreds of protesters in downtown Brussels at the scene of a temporary memorial to victims of the assaults. Police made 10 arrests in connection with the demonstrations, Belga reported.
At the airport in Zaventem, where two suicide blasts ripped through the departures hall, officials will test repair work and temporary arrangements on Tuesday before making a decision on when to re-open the terminal to passengers, even then only on a partial basis. “When this partial restart will take place is not yet decided,” the airport said on its website.
The Maelbeek metro station, the site of the other attack, is closed to passengers but trains are passing through.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Ewa Krukowska, Aoife White, Stephanie Bodoni