Brussels attacks: Belgian prosecutors charge 3 men with terror offences

Belgian prosecutors have charged three men with terrorist offences, including a suspect who local media said appeared on security footage at Brussels airport shortly before the twin blasts. Prosecutors said Saturday that 24 of the 31 victims in the attacks have now been identified, the former Belgian ambassador to the U.S. among them.

Solidarity rally cancelled as police forces too strapped

Belgian troops and police control a road leading to Zaventem airport following last Tuesday's airport bombings in Brussels. Eleven people were killed in suicide explosions at the airport on March 22, while 20 people died in a bombing attack on a subway train in the city on the same day. (Charles Platiau/Reuters )

Belgian prosecutors have charged three men with terrorist offences, including a suspect who local media said appeared on security footage with two suicide bombers at Brussels airport shortly before they detonated their bombs.

Prosecutors named the third man as Faycal C. while Belgian media identified him as Faycal Cheffou. 

The media reports said he was the man wearing a hat and a light-coloured jacket in last Tuesday's airport picture that showed three men pushing baggage trolleys bearing luggage.

Prosecutors said Faycal C. had been charged with involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder. They would not confirm the Belgian media reports about his identity.

 
Belgian media are reporting the suspect referred to in the arrest warrant issued Saturday is Fayçal Cheffou and that his image was captured by a surveillance camera shortly before the explosions at the main airport in Brussels. (Belgian Federal Police via Getty Images)

His home had been searched though no weapons or explosives had been found, they said. 

Two other men, Aboubakar A. and Rabah N., were also charged with terrorist activities and membership of a terrorist group. Rabah N. was wanted in connection with a related raid in France this week that authorities say foiled an apparent attack plot. 

A total of 31 people were killed, including three attackers, and scores wounded in the Brussels attacks which were claimed by ISIS and, as well as the airport, included a bomb on a metro train in the city centre. 

Ex-Belgian ambassador to U.S. among victims

Brussels prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch tells The Associated Press that 24 of the 31 victims in the Brussels attacks have now been identified.

Belgian prosecutors issue an arrest warrant issued for bombing suspect ID's as 'Faycal C' 2:14

He says 11 of them were foreigners. One was former Belgian ambassador to the United States, Andre Adam.

Of the 270 wounded, 93 are being treated at a Brussels military hospital. A doctor there says Saturday that 15 people are in a serious burns unit, five of them in intensive care.

The attacks in Brussels, home to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, took place four months after Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris and sent shockwaves around Europe and across the world. With increasing signs that the Brussels and Paris attacks were carried out by members of the same network, police across Europe arrested nine people in raids in Belgium and two in Germany before the weekend. 

Security concerns cancel solidarity march

Organizers have postponed Sunday's march for solidarity in Belgium after the country's interior minister appealed to residents not to attend because police are too stretched with the investigation into attacks on Brussels' airport and subway.

Event organizer Emmanuel Foulon said Saturday the event would be held later.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon made the appeal earlier Saturday, citing the fact that Belgium's tiny police force is stretched. Jambon says "we understand fully the emotions. We understand that everyone wants to express these feelings."

The march was to take place in the Belgian capital.

3rd man seen at the airport

Three men were arrested in Brussels on Friday, including one suspect shot in the leg at a tram stop in the district of Schaerbeek. He was subsequently identified as Abderamane A. and Belgian authorities said on Saturday they were holding him for a further 24 hours. Another person, Tawfik A., who was taken in for questioning on Friday, had been released. 
A member of a bomb squad arrives to inspect the tramway tracks in the Schaerbeek district in Brussels on Friday. (Patrik/Stollarz/FP/Getty Images)

Friday's police operation was linked to the arrest in Paris the previous day of an Islamist convicted in Belgium last year and suspected of plotting a new attack, Belgian prosecutors said. 

Cheffou, whom media said was a freelance journalist, was identified by a taxi driver who drove the attackers to the airport on March 22, Le Soir newspaper said.

Earlier, police and government sources said it was highly likely he was the third man seen at the airport. Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur told Le Soir that Cheffou had been detained a number of times at a park where he sought to encourage asylum seekers camped there to turn to radical extremism. 

The self-styled freelance journalist was "dangerous", the mayor said, and he had been banned from visiting the park.

Police, speaking at a separate briefing in Brussels, said 24 victims from nine different nationalities had been identified so far from the Brussels bombs. Four people are unidentified. 

Two of the three Brussels suicide bombers were brothers, one of whom died at the airport while the other took part in the attack on the metro train near Maelbeek station in Brussels.

With files from The Associated Press

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