Brussels attacks: Under-fire cops hunt for suspects

Police are under pressure after it emerged that they knew about the two brothers who blew themselves up; a third suspected bomber was spotted on airport’s CCTV footage

Brussels: Police in Brussels yesterday launched a desperate hunt for two men suspected of taking part in the Islamic State bombings that struck at the very heart of Europe.

CCTV camera footage shows three men who are suspected of taking part in the attacks at Belgium’s Zaventem Airport. Pic/AFP
CCTV camera footage shows three men who are suspected of taking part in the attacks at Belgium’s Zaventem Airport. Pic/AFP

Under-fire Belgian security officials are tracking one man identified at the scene of a suicide attack on the metro, as well as a suspected bomber seen on CCTV camera footage at Brussels airport.

European security authorities faced mounting pressure after it emerged that two brothers who blew themselves up at the airport and on a metro train were known to police and that one of them had been deported from Turkey as a “foreign terrorist fighter”. Flags in Brussels hung at half-mast as Belgium mourned the 31 people killed in Tuesday’s attacks, while doctors battled to save scores more injured in the carnage.

The latest bombings, coming four months after Islamic State jihadists killed 130 people in a series of attacks in Paris, have raised fears of further strikes in Europe, which is battling to deal with home-grown extremists.
EU justice and interior ministers will convene in Brussels for an emergency meeting to work out a plan to address the threat to Europe posed by jihadists and the application of anti-terrorism laws across the bloc.

Third suspect
Yesterday, prosecutors said brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui had carried out attacks at Zaventem airport and Maalbeek station, while police sources named bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui as a second airport bomber. Police have launched a massive manhunt for the third airport suspect, seen wearing a hat and white jacket on CCTV camera footage from Zaventem departure hall, whose explosive-packed luggage failed to go off with the two other suicide bombers.

Missing Indian techie’s last call traced
The last phone call of Infosys employee from Bengaluru who has gone missing in Brussels since Tuesday’s deadly terror strike, has been tracked to a metro rail in the Belgian capital, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday said. The Indian Embassy in Brussels is making efforts to locate Raghavendran Ganesh. “We have tracked his last call in Brussels. He was travelling in the metro rail,” Swaraj tweeted yesterday. “We are doing our best to locate him,” she added.

Flight attendant in induced coma
A Jet Airways manager said a Mumbai-based flight attendant, Nidhi Chaphekar, injured in the Belgium attacks, is undergoing treatment for burns and has been placed in a medically induced coma.

Nidhi Chaphekar injured after the attack. Pic/AFP
Nidhi Chaphekar injured after the attack. Pic/AFP

Bernard Guisset, a Jet Airways manager in Brussels, said Nidhi has burns over 15 per cent of her body and has a fractured foot, but is out of danger. “Nidhi is recovering from the injury. Though she can’t talk as of now, she is expected to get better in a week or so,” said Madhuri Chapheker, Nidhi's sister-in-law, adding that Nidhi's husband and brother-in-law had reached Brussels yesterday.

“We are relaxed now as family members are present with her there and are able to take care of her. Earlier, we were all clueless about her state and were dependent on her colleagues for updates,” added Madhuri. Meanwhile, Amit Motwani, a Jet Airways flight purser who was also injured in the airport blast, was being treated for injuries to his eye and ear.

— Neha LM Tripathi

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