Two Brussels Suicide Bombers Were Brothers, Official Says

brussels-suspectsTwo suspected suicide bombers who carried out the Brussels attacks were brothers, and a third man is being sought, a prosecutor said.

The brothers who were part of the Tuesday bombing in Brussels were identified as brothers with criminal records.

The toll from the assaults, at the city’s main airport and at a subway station in central Brussels, stood at 31 dead and 270 injured.

According to reports, the brothers — Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 30, and Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27 — were both Belgian and had a criminal history, but had no known links to terrorism until the authorities conducted a raid on March 15 on an apartment in the Forest district of Brussels as part of the investigation into the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

One of the brothers was deported by Turkey back to Europe less than a year ago, Turkey’s president said, suspected of being a terrorist fighter intent on entering Syria, where the Islamic State is based.

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Despite that statement, Belgian officials said neither brother had been under suspicion for terrorism until recently, an indication of the Islamic State’s ability to remain steps ahead of European intelligence and security monitors.

“The European values of democracy and of freedom are what was savagely assaulted by these tragic attacks,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said after meeting with his French counterpart, Manuel Valls, who said, “Our two peoples are united in this hardship.”

New York Times reports that many Belgians attended memorials and others stayed home from work. Subway service was reduced and the airport, now a crime scene, was to remain closed at least through Thursday. And new evidence emerged of how the magnitude of the attacks could have been far worse.

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The authorities recovered two undetonated bombs at the airport that had been constructed with 20 to 40 pounds of a volatile compound known as TATP — an explosive also used in the Paris attacks — combined with ammonium nitrate and metal bolts and nails, according to an American official who had reviewed intelligence shared by Belgium.

The official said they also recovered what the Belgians called a suicide belt at the site, and found two more bombs concealed in suitcases, similar to those recovered at the airport, at the residence where the bombers hailed a taxi before Tuesday morning’s attacks.

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