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Brussels airport terminal declared 'intact' as police operations continue

Published 27/03/2016

Tears at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels (AP)
Tears at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels (AP)

Belgian officials have completed their initial investigation at Brussels International Airport, after a provisional inspection of the terminal found the main building to be stable.

Five days after the two airport blasts which killed at least 14 people, a statement published on Brussels Airport's website confirmed that technicians and independent experts had judged the main and connector buildings to be "intact".

The statement also disclosed that the locations where hand luggage and custom checks are carried out can also be used again.

Airport officials are now discussing plans to install temporary check-in desks, but pointed out that the process of identifying a suitable location was still being carried out in consultation with airlines and luggage handlers.

Shortly after the announcement, Belgian media also reported that prosecutors in Brussels have charged a second man in connection with a foiled attack on Paris.

The man, identified only as Abderamane A, was charged with involvement in a terrorist group, according to Belgian media.

In a statement in French, the state-owned Belga news agency said that prosecutors confirmed that the suspect had been arrested on Friday in Schaerbeek, after he was shot and wounded by armed police at a tram stop.

It was not confirmed by Belgian prosecutors.

The reported arrest would be the second to be made in connection with a plot to stage another terror attack in Paris, after nine people were arrested for their suspected involvement in the terror attacks in Belgium last Thursday.

It is understood that the first arrest was made in Boulogne-Billancourt, west of Paris, where police detained Reda Kriket, 34, for his suspected involvement in a militant plot that officials believe was "at an advanced stage".

Kriket's arrest was followed by a raid on an apartment in Argenteuil, also near the French capital, where law enforcement officers seized two kilogrammes of the explosive TATP and a Kalashnikov rifle.

During a televised press conference on Thursday, Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said that the suspect was implicated in a plot to bring more carnage to the streets of Paris, but added that he was not linked to the terror attacks in Brussels.

Mr Cazeneuve said the arrest had been the result of a detailed investigation that had taken weeks to complete.

Media reports also claim that Belgian court documents from last year revealed that Kriket was found guilty in absentia by a Belgian court and sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping to recruit young Europeans to fight for jihadist groups in the Middle East.

On Saturday, an Algerian national wanted by the Belgian intelligence services, Djamal Eddine Ouali, was detained in Salerno, Italy.

Italian state police confirmed that he had been detained in Belizzi, a town located in the south of the region. He is understood to have been arrested under the European arrest warrant, in connection with the forging of fake ID documents used by the terrorists behind the Paris and Brussels attacks.

Confirming his arrest on Twitter, Italian police uploaded an image of the suspect being detained by armed officers, adding that he had been arrested for "aiding and abetting illegal immigration linked to the Paris massacre".

They added: "The Algerian arrested today in Salerno is part of a network of counterfeiters of residence permits also linked to the massacre of Brussels."

According to Ansa, Ouali is also believed to have provided a fake ID for Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Paris attacks arrested in the Brussels' district of Molenbeek four days before the Brussels bombing.

The agency reported that Italian police were alerted to Ouali's whereabouts when he applied for a residence permit in the southern city of Salerno.

His extradition to Belgium is expected to be completed some time next week, more than two months after Belgian authorities placed him on a wanted list for "aiding and abetting illegal immigration" by producing false papers which could be used for illegal travel.

Despite the cancellation of a planned memorial march through the centre of Brussels on Sunday, Belgian riot police were forced to use water cannons on a far-right protest group which disrupted the large remembrance gathering at the central Place de la Bourse.

As members of the public laid floral tributes to the victims of Tuesday's attacks at a makeshift memorial, police clashed with the demonstration group, which was seen making Nazi salutes and confronting ethnic minority groups, according to the BBC.

After riot police failed to force the group back from the vigil, water cannons were used to disperse individuals to cheers by members of the crowd that had come to pay their respects.

Adrian Liston, who was present at the vigil, told the BBC that the memorial had been disrupted by a "bunch of skinheads" who had turned up "in force".

"They marched into the square and started a major confrontation with the peace protesters," he added.

"At this point they were really starting to get in the face of the peace protesters, the face of the police, setting off flares, setting off fireworks, and chanting stuff that was really quite ugly."

The Italian news agency AGI reported that Ouali was discovered after local immigration officials checked his residency permit. Police had been searching for a man with the same name and belonging to the same organisation since January.

AGI also claimed that Ouali is suspected of providing a forged Belgian ID card for Najim Laachraoui, one of the suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport last week.

US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump told ABC on Sunday that he felt Britain and Europe were "not safe places" following the recent terror attacks.

"I don't think Bruss - England or I don't think that Europe is a safe place. No, I don't. I think there are a lot of problems in Europe that very, very severe," he said.

"When you look at Brussels, when you look at the way they've handled things from law enforcement standpoints, when you look at Paris, when you look at so many other places, no, it's not (safe)".

The comments made by the billionaire Republican candidate for the presidential nomination were supported by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, who said t hat US citizens should "avoid a crowded place" if they were travelling Europe, because "you have no control over who may be there", during an interview on CBS's Face The Nation.

In December Mr Trump was mocked by Britons for his comments on "no-go" areas in London, when he claimed that some areas of the capital were "so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives".

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