IS suicide bombers hit Brussels Airport and a metro train on Tuesday, killing at least 31 people and wounding 270 in the worst such attack in Belgian history. Investigators believe the attacks were carried out by the same IS cell responsible for gun and bomb attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November.
The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said six people were held during searches in the Brussels neighbourhoods of Schaerbeek in the north and Jette in the west, as well as in the centre of the Belgian capital. Public broadcaster RTBF said a seventh man was arrested in the Forest borough of Brussels early yesterday.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said German police had arrested two people. One had received phone messages with the name of the metro station bomber and the word ‘fin’ — French for ‘end’ — three minutes before the metro blast, it said. The German interior ministry declined immediate comment.
The Belgian daily De Standaard said police had arrested a man who was filmed by security cameras in the airport next to two bombers who blew themselves up there. Prosecutors did not confirm the arrest. It was not known if the man was among seven detained. The attack in Brussels, home to the EU and Nato, has heightened security concerns around the world and raised questions about EU states’ ability to respond.
In Paris on Thursday, authorities arrested a French national suspected of belonging to a militant network planning an attack in France, although they said there was no evidence directly tying his plot to the Brussels and Paris attacks.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a televised address the arrest helped “foil a plot in France that was at an advanced stage”.
A French Interior Ministry wanted notice published by French media named him as Reda Kriket, 34, who was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison in Belgium last July for recruiting Islamist fighters for Syria.