Suspect charged over Brussels attacks

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Two men blew themselves up in the departure hall of Zavantem airport. Wiki Commons CC BY SA

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Belgian authorities have arrested and charged a man with terrorism offences over the March 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels, the latest in the ongoing case, prosecutors said yesterday.

The 39-year-old man named as Brahim T, a Belgian national, was arrested on a warrant from an investigating judge and is due to appear in court for a pretrial hearing in the next few days.

“He is charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders, as a perpetrator, co-perpetrator or accomplice,” it said in a statement.

Prosecutors gave no details about his ties to the suicide bombers who killed a total of 32 people at Brussels international airport and a metro station in the capital.

But the announcement comes a day after Belgian media reported police had made around a dozen counter-terrorism raids in which four people were arrested. One raid was reported to have targeted a shop in Brussels where materials for the bombs may have been purchased.

Nine people have previously been charged over the attacks.

Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui blew themselves up in the departure hall of Zavantem airport early on March 22 last year. Shortly afterwards, Ibrahim’s brother Khalid attacked Maalbeek metro station in the EU quarter.

Mohamed Abrini, known as the “Man in the Hat” from video footage of the airport attack, failed to detonate his suicide bomb and was filmed fleeing on foot back to central Brussels where he disappeared.

Osama Krayem, 24, seen with Khalid El Bakraoui at a metro station before going their separate ways, also failed to go through with his attack. Krayem  apparently hid himself among fleeing refugees to return to Europe from Syria in 2015. Abrini and Krayem were arrested in Brussels last year.

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