Tuesday

22nd May 2018

Brussels suicide bombers 'helped Paris attackers'

The two suicide bombers who carried out the deadly attacks at Brussels airport on Tuesday (22 March) were linked to last November's attacks in Paris, according to the Belgian state broadcaster.

Radio station RTBF said the airport attack was carried out by brothers Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 30.

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  • Schaerbeek was still under lockdown Tuesday night as raid went on in terrorist hideout (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Police had been hunting them since a raid on an apartment in the Brussels suburb of Forest, which led to the capture of Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor of the team involved in the Paris attacks.

Khalid el-Bakraoui is believed to have rented the Forest apartment under a false name, and the brothers reportedly supplied ammunition and weapons for the Paris attacks.

The suspects had spent time in prison, according to RTBF, but not for terrorist offences.

Ibrahim el-Bakraoui was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2010 after shooting at police officers during an attempted robbery.

Khalid el-Bakraoui was sentenced to five years for attempted car-jackings in 2011. At the time of his arrest, he had been in possession of assault rifles.

The el-Bakraoui brothers are from Brussels, but reportedly also rent an apartment in Charleroi, where two of the Paris attackers met before they headed for the French capital.

Police are looking for the third attacker at Brussels airport, who was identified by the Belgian media as Najim Laachraoui.

Victims named

Police are investigating whether a house on Rue Max Roos in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek was the hideout of the brothers and their accomplice.

The authorities locked down the area around the house on Tuesday, where they have found explosives, a detonator and a flag of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Residents of the area told this website they were evacuated early afternoon, for fear of explosions, and were advised to go to a shelter nearby.

Residents were only let back in after the raid ended around midnight.

Police were seen taking away evidence from the house, and experts in chemical suits were coming in and out of the building late at night.

It is likely that the three attackers, including the el-Bakraoui, brothers left from this apartment to head to the Brussels airport.

According to media reports, the taxi driver who took them to the airport tipped off police, as he found the passengers and the heavy luggage suspicious.

The first victim was named in the Brussels attacks as Adelma Tapia Ruiz, a 37-year-old Peruvian.

She was reportedly killed at the airport as she was waiting for a flight with her Belgian husband, Christophe Delcambe, and their twin four-year-old daughters Maureen and Alondra. Her family survived the attack.

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