Belgian police hunt bombings suspect

CCTV image of suspect in Brussels airport bombing on 22 March 2016Image copyright
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This man, captured on CCTV at Zaventem airport, is being “actively sought”, say prosecutors

Belgian police have issued a wanted notice for a suspect after bomb attacks at Brussels’ main airport and a metro station left more than 30 people dead.

The man is suspected of involvement in the twin explosions which tore through Zaventem airport.

He was seen on CCTV pushing a trolley through the airport with two other suspects.

Both those men are believed to have died in the blasts, possibly by detonating suicide devices.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind both the attacks in the Belgian capital.

An online statement from the group said the locations were “carefully selected” and warned of worse to come for “Crusader states allied against the Islamic State”.

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said police were seeking a man wearing a hat and light-coloured jacket, who was pictured with two other men at the airport.

He said searches were taking place “in several parts of the country”, adding that an explosive device containing nails, chemical products and an IS flag were found in an apartment in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels.

The prosecutor said both blasts at the airport were believed to have been carried out by suicide bombers.

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The two men to the left are believed to have blown themselves up

The explosions happened in quick succession shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT), with some victims reportedly hit by the second blast as they tried to escape the first.

Another bomb was later found and destroyed in a controlled detonation at the scene.

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About an hour after the airport blasts, another explosion struck the Maelbeek metro station near EU headquarters.

Belgian officials put the death toll from both attacks at over 30, with at least 11 killed at the airport and about 20 at the metro station.

Almost 200 people have been injured, many of them severely.

“This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said. “I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity.”

Belgium has raised its terrorism alert to its highest level. Three days of national mourning have been declared.

Police are carrying out raids on suspected jihadists across the country, the prosecutor said.

Some local transport has re-opened following a shutdown, but flights from the airport have been cancelled and the airport is unlikely to open for several days. Eurostar services in and out of Brussels have been suspended.

World leaders have sent condolences and messages of solidarity.

US President Barack Obama called the blasts “outrageous attacks against innocent people” while the 28 EU leaders – in a joint statement – said the bombings were an “attack on our open, democratic society”.

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