Brussels Hit by Terrorist Attacks, Leaving at Least 34 Dead

Airport suicide bombers identified as Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui

Brussels terror attacks
AP Photo/Martin Meissner

UPDATED: The city of Brussels woke up to the aftermath of the deadly terror attacks that killed at least 30 people Tuesday morning. Three suspected suicide bombers responsible for the airport and subway attacks have been identified on Wednesday as Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui as well as Najim Laachroui. A third suspect was just captured, although his identity is still unknown, according to local reports.

Belgian media initially reported that the captured suspect was Laachroui but he was just identified as one of the two suicide bombers at the airport.

Khalid el-Bakraoui’s footprints were found in the subway, while Ibrahim el-Bakraoui’s footprints were found at the airport.

The el-Bakraoui brothers and Laachroui were already actively researched by authorities due to their suspected participation in the Paris terror attacks on Nov. 13 and their connection to Salah Abdeslam, one of the key suspects in the Paris attack arrested five days ago in Brussels. Another suspect, Mohamed Abrini, is still on the run.

The country is at a standstill as authorities have declared three days of mourning.

Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union, was hit by two coordinated blasts — one in its subway and another one at its airport. At least 200 people were injured. It was the deadliest attack in Belgium, France’s neighboring country, since World War II.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on Tuesday, according to Amaq, a news agency affiliated with the group.

“Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital Brussels,” Amaq wrote, according to Reuters.

The blasts at Zaventem airport — Belgium’s largest — killed at least 14 people and was caused by a suicide bombing, per the Belgian prosecutor. Several dozen were injured. Reports have indicated the explosions might have happened near the counters of an American airline and Brussels Airlines. The nationalities of victims have not been revealed.

A third bomb was later discovered at the airport and deactivated in a controlled explosion.

The bomb attack in the subway took place at 9:11 a.m. (at rush hour) at the Maelbeek station in Brussels, which is located 400 meters from the European Commission, along with other European institutions. At last 15 people died and 55 were injured in the subway blast.

All public transportations, schools, public institutions and movie theaters have been shut down in Brussels.

Police are seeking the man on the right in this photo Belgian Federal Police via AP

The attacks on Belgian soil come four days after the arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam, one of the key suspects in the Nov. 13 Paris attack. Explosives were found in Abdeslam’s apartment, leading investigators to think that he was plotting another attack.

“It’s all of Europe which was targeted and slaughtered by these attacks,” said French president Francois Hollande. “The war against terrorism has to be fought by all of Europe. We must wage this war on terror in coordination with international powers as well.”

Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, called the attacks “blind, violent and cowardly.”

“We’re at war. Europe has been repeatedly attacked for the last few months by acts of war (…) and we must be determined to fight terrorism. The threat is even greater today than before the Nov. 13 attacks at the Bataclan and Stade de France,” said Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister.

While on a historic trip to Havana, U.S. President Obama said: “We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”

Meanwhile, David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, said: “These are difficult times, these are appalling terrorists, but we must 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.”