Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Brussels attacks: Police release CCTV image of suspected airport bombers and man 'still being sought'

Isis claims responsibility for attack which killed at least 34 and wounded 200

By Jonny Bell

Isis has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks on Brussels as police release a CCTV image of three suspects.

At least 34 people have been killed and more than 200 injured after explosions at Brussels Airport and a city centre Meto station.

Two bombs exploded at Zaventem airport just after 7am on Tuesday.

It was reported that people ran toward the second blast moments after the initial explosion.

Around an hour later a bomb was set off at Maalbeek Metro.

Three of the alleged perpetrators of the Zaventem attack have been pictured in a still taken from airport CCTV footage. 

De Standaard reports that the two men to the left died in the suicide bomb attack, while the man in the white coat and hat s ‘still being sought’.

The two suspected bombers were both wearing black gloves on their left hands only. Security sources have said the gloves could have been worn to hide the triggers for explosives.

Bomb disposal experts also carried out a controlled explosion on another device in the city while an unexploded bomb belt was found in the airport.

Belgium officials have said at least one attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, while all blasts are being reported as terror attacks.

Belgium was effectively shutdown and people warned not to leave their homes or work after the attacks.

And 225 troops have been deployed in the city in the wake of explosions.

Brussels Airport will be closed on Wednesday, while some public transport restrictions have been eased.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said "what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks".

Read more: Brussels attacks: 'We expected something, but nothing on this level,' says Northern Ireland man

Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw is calling all three explosions in Brussels "terrorist attacks". He said "one attack was probably done by a suicide bomber".

"We are at war," French prime minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting called by the French president. "We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war."

US president Barack Obama is pledging that the US will "do whatever is necessary" to help Belgium bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist attacks that killed more than two dozen people at the airport and a subway station.

He said the US stands "in solidarity" with Belgium in condemning "these outrageous attacks against innocent people".

Mr Obama said the attacks are another reminder that "the world must unite" against the "scourge of terrorism".

Pope Francis has also condemned the "blind violence" of the Brussels attacks and has offered prayers for the victims, their families and emergency responders.

Francis's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram of condolences to the archbishop of Brussels, Mons Jozef De Kesel.

In it, Francis said he "condemns once again the blind violence that breeds so much suffering and implores the gift of peace from God" for all Belgians.

Downing Street has said one British national is known to have been injured in the bomb attack at Zaventem airport.

The Prime Minister promised full backing in a phone call with counterpart Charles Michel after chairing a 40-minute meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee to discuss the atrocity.

"We absolutely stand with them at this very difficult time," he said.

"These were attacks in Belgium. They could just as well be attacks in Britain or France or Germany or elsewhere in Europe and we need to stand together against these appalling terrorists and make sure they can never win.

"I have made sure that we have offered every support to the Belgian security and policing and intelligence forces at this time."

Britain was doing "everything we can to enhance our own security", with the police presence being reinforced at ports, airports, underground stations and international railway stations.

"These are difficult times, these are appalling terrorists. But we will stand together to do everything we can to stop them and to make sure that although they attack our way of life and attack us because of who we are, we will never let them win."

It has been reported shots were fired and Arabic shouted before the blasts were heard at the American Airlines check-in desk at Brussels Airport.

The Belgian capital has been on a state of high alert following the arrest of the Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.

The blasts happened at the busiest time at the airport, which serves the city that is the capital of the 28-nation European Union. Nato also has its headquarters in the area.

Smoke was seen billowing out of the terminal after Tuesday morning's explosions.

Amateur video shown on France's i-Tele television showed passengers including a child with a backpack running out of the terminal in different directions, pulling their luggage.

Another image showed a security officer patrolling inside a hall with blasted panelling and what appeared to be ceiling insulation covering the floor.

Passengers were led on to the tarmac and the crisis centre urged people not to come to the airport.

Jef Versele, 40, from Ghent, Belgium, was at the airport when he heard the two explosions.

"I was on my way to check in and two bombs went off - two explosions," he said.

"I didn't see anything. Everything was coming down. Glassware. It was chaos it was unbelievable. It was the worst thing."

He added: "People were running away, there were lots of people on the ground. A lot of people are injured."

Mr Versele was two or three storeys above the source of the explosion but he said many people around him were hurt.

"The bomb was coming from downstairs. It was going up through the roof. It was big.

"About 15 windows were just blown out from the entrance hall", he added.

Security has been increased at London Gatwick following the explosions in Brussels.

An airport spokesman said the safety of passengers and staff was the "absolute priority".

He added: "As a result of the terrible incidents in Brussels we have increased our security presence and patrols around the airport."

Heathrow issued a statement which read: "In the light of events in Brussels airport we are working with the police at Heathrow who are providing a high visibility presence."

Footage from inside the building showed a scene of devastation with ceiling tiles strewn across the floor and suitcases abandoned.

Brussels Airport, which handles serving 23.5 million passengers per year, told users on Twitter: "There have been two explosions at the airport. Building is being evacuated. Don't come to the airport area.

The airport urged those passengers still in the building to remain calm.

Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said: "There were two blasts in the departure hall. The first aid team are in place for help."

Passengers were led onto the tarmac and travellers were urged to stay away from the airport.

Sky News Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi, who was at the airport en route for Tel Aviv, told the channel: "I could feel the buildings move."

According to reports the incident centred on an American Airlines desk in a departure hall.

Mr Rossi told Sky News people were "dazed and shocked".

"The word is definitely two explosions.

"The thinking here by everybody is that it is some kind of terrorist attack although that hasn't been verified by anyone here at the airport.

"No word too of casualties. Don't know how the explosion took place, the method if you like. But it certainly seems Brussels airport has been targeted in a terrorist attack.

"We are all being moved out of the airport now towards the emergency exit. There is a great deal of confusion here. Certainly there are a number of very upset, as you might imagine, very frightened people."

He added: "There are fears that there might be other attackers."

Mr Rossi, who had checked his luggage through the main baggage area and was at a departure gate, said he thought he was "fairly close" to the explosions but he could not be sure.

He told Sky News as he was being ushered out of the airport along with other passengers: "We felt the walls of the building rock. Dust came down from the ceiling.

"I think it was a very big explosion - hardly surprising the windows are blown out.

"I would expect if there were people around when those explosions happened - we heard two explosions - there will be a number of casualties."

Abdeslam, suspected as a planner in the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, was arrested on Friday after a four-month manhunt, in the same neighbourhood in Brussels where he grew up.

But the Belgian authorities fear he had accomplices while on the run who are still at large and could pose a threat.

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told reporters at a news conference in Brussels on Monday: "(It's clear) we have a general threat."

Abdeslam, 26, a French citizen who grew up in Brussels' Molenbeek neighbourhood, slipped through police fingers on several occasions, including the day after the attacks.

He was interviewed three times on Saturday, the day after his capture - once by prosecutors and twice by an investigating judge - and "wasn't in great shape" because he had been shot in the leg by police during his capture, Mr Van Leeuw said.

Belgian prosecutors appealed to the public on Monday for information about a man who allegedly travelled to Hungary last year with Abdeslam.

Najim Laachraoui, 24, is said to have travelled to Syria in February 2013. He was checked by guards at the Austria-Hungary border while driving in a Mercedes with Abdeslam and one other person.

Laachraoui is said to have rented a house under the name of Soufiane Kayal in the Belgian town of Auvelais that was allegedly used as a safe house. Prosecutors said traces of his DNA were found there.

Abdeslam has a court hearing on Wednesday. France has requested his extradition but Abdeslam's lawyer says his client will fight the request.

Have you been caught up in the incident? Email

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph