Police comb Belgian capital for third suspect as prosecutor says two bombers were brothers involved in organised crime.by Al Jazeera
A massive manhunt is under way for a suspect seen with two supposed suicide bombers shortly before they struck Brussels’ Zaventem Airport in the first of two attacks that also hit the city’s metro, killing 31 people and wounding 261.
Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw confirmed on Wednesday that two brothers, Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui, blew themselves up in Tuesday’s attacks.
Brahim had been identified using finger print records, Van Leeuw said, adding a third suspect remained on the run.
The prosecutor also confirmed police had raided an address associated with the attackers after a tip-off by a taxi driver who drove the attackers to the airport.
“There was five kilograms of explosives, oxidising liquid, and other materials for making explosives,” he said.
Van Leeuw spoke shortly after crowds of mourners gathered outside Maelbeek station, one of the targets of the attacks, to observe a minute of silence.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for Tuesday morning’s attacks.
“This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, describing the bombings as the “deadliest attacks we have ever seen in Belgium”.
But as Belgium began three days of national mourning on Wednesday, he insisted the country would not be cowed by the “blind, violent and cowardly” attacks.
Belgian authorities released pictures of two of the suspects pushing trolleys with their bombs through the terminal and said they were “actively searching” for a third man whose explosives did not go off.
Police helicopters hovered over the city late into the night on Tuesday and raids were carried out across Belgium, prosecutors said, adding that a bomb, an ISIL flag and chemicals had been found in one apartment.
Police were going door-to-door throughout Brussels searching for suspects or others planning attacks. The interior minister said 600 additional police were deployed.
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Brussels, said many in the country were asking whether the attacks represented a continuing threat.
“Belgians feel this is something they’ll now have to get used to…the editor of a prominent Belgian news outlet yesterday was writing that she believed this was something that was becoming part of the system.
“[She said] this was something people have to get used to and have to explain to their children that there is a threat and life has changed.”
Kane said there was also a sense that the blasts were a calculated attack on European insitutions and the “fabric of Europe”.
On social media thousands of people shared images of beloved Belgian cartoon character Tintin in tears.
The explosions struck the heart of European officialdom where NATO headquarters is based, along with the European Union, and European Commission.
Witnesses at the airport and metro station described scenes of horror immediately after the bombings.
“When I heard the first explosion, lots of people started screaming and running,” Tom, an intern working at the airport, told Al Jazeera.
“When I heard the second explosion, which was about 30 seconds after the first one, everything got chaotic. I could see panic on everyone’s face, blood on their bodies.”
The interior ministry raised the country’s terrorism alert to the highest level after the blasts.
Belgium has been on high alert since the arrest in Brussels last week of Salah Abdeslam , a key suspect in last November’s Paris attacks that left 130 people dead.
Governments in Europe and beyond quickly responded to the Brussels attacks, calling emergency national security meetings and stepping up controls at airports and other sensitive sites.