Manhunt for Brussels attacker

  • 23/03/2016
A handout photograph provided by Belgian Federal Police shows a CCTV grab of a suspect in the Zaventem airport attack in Brussels, Belgium (AAP)
A handout photograph provided by Belgian Federal Police shows a CCTV grab of a suspect in the Zaventem airport attack in Brussels, Belgium (AAP)

The two suicide bombers who carried out the attacks in Brussels airport have been named by Belgian public broadcaster RTBF as brothers Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui.

The two men were Brussels residents known to the police for crime, RTBF said citing an unnamed source.

Khalid, under a false name, had rented the flat in the Forest borough of the Belgian capital where police killed a gunman in a raid last week, RTBF said.

Investigators found after that raid an Islamic State flag, an assault rifle, detonators and a fingerprint of Paris attacks prime suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested three days later.

Both brothers have criminal records, but have not been linked by the police to terrorism until now, RTBF said.

The attacker still at large has been named by a Belgian paper as Najim Laachraoui.


The paper DH says he was already being sought by police.

Belgium is marking three days of mourning over the terror attacks that shook Europe; 34 people are known to have died and at least 198 were injured.

The first confirmed fatality was named as 37-year-old Adelma Tapia Ruiz, a mother of two from Peru, by the country's foreign ministry.

Others have been reported missing following the double blast in the Belgian capital's Zaventem Airport, and the subsequent explosion on a tube train at Maelbeek Metro station.

Investigators are focusing on whether CCTV footage captured moments before the airport blasts shows two of the three suspected terrorists wearing single gloves to secrete detonators. Zaventem's mayor said the explosives were stowed in their luggage and detonated before reaching the security gate.

A third bomb was deactivated at the airport hours after the initial attack.

The Belgian police Twitter account for appeals contained the latest photos, which also show close-ups of the two men believed to be dead, and asked for information from anyone who recognised them.


Police are reported to have raided an address given to them by a taxi driver who unwittingly drove the three men to the airport. It is believed they found another bomb and an Islamic State flag at the address.

IS has claimed the attacks and a communique in Arabic and French threatens other countries in the anti-IS coalition with "dark days", according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.

It came as transport terminals across Europe ramped up security measures.

The attacks, condemned as "blind, violent and cowardly" by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, happened four days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, who plotted November's massacre in Paris. Detectives are yet to rule out a direct link between the attacks.

As night fell on Brussels, Michel showed solidarity with Belgians by lighting a candle at a vigil at Place de la Bourse, the city's stock exchange building.

He told a press conference earlier that the atrocities had killed people whose lives "were in full course".

International leaders united in support for Belgium, with British PM David Cameron branding the atrocities "appalling" and US President Barack Obama condemning the "outrageous attacks against innocent people".

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: "We are at war. In Europe we have been subjected to acts of war for several months."

PAA / Reuters