Brussels attacks: IS flag, nail bomb found in raid, toll 34


London, March 23: Authorities have found an explosive device while conducting the raids in Schaarbeek, a northern suburb of Brussels, the Belgian prosecutor’s office has confirmed.

“The searches … have led to the discovery of an explosive device containing nails, among other things. The investigators have also discovered chemical products and an Islamic State (IS) flag,” The Guardian reported here on Wednesday (March 23).

Earlier a third bomb was found at the airport and was destroyed by the security services.

At least 34 people were killed and some 200 injured in coordinated bomb attacks on Brussels’ main airport and the subway. One of the two airport blasts is believed to have been a suicide bombing.

Scores were also injured in the coordinated attacks — only four days after Belgian Police arrested the suspect in the Paris terror attack which killed 130 people in November.

The injured included two employees of the privately-owned Indian airline Jet. One was an Indian.
Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel blamed terrorists for the carnage. “We were already fearing attacks. That has happened now. We confront a situation where many people have died,” a sombre Michel told the media. He said Belgium was “determined to deal with the situation”.

Michel said a suicide bomber was involved in the airport attack, which took place at 8 a.m. in a departure area, shattering windows, furniture as well as machinery, leaving it resembling a war zone.

The airport — the biggest in Belgium — and all public transport were shut down after the bloodbath. And so was the European Union headquarters, located near the Maalbeek Metro station where 15 people died, said the Guardian newspaper.

“The Metro was leaving Maelbeek station for Schuman when there was a really loud explosion,” Alexandre Brans, 32, told the media, wiping blood from his face. “It was panic everywhere.”

Belga news agency reported that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the two airport blasts, BBC said.

An intern working at the airport told Al Jazeera: “When I heard the first explosion, lots of people started screaming and running. When I heard the second explosion, which was about 30 seconds after the first, everything got chaotic. I could see panic on everyone’s face, blood on their bodies.”

Hundreds of people fled the airport building, some with blood on their faces. First reports said the blasts were centred at the American Airlines check-in desk. The false ceiling in that building came crashing down.

The Brussels airport, originally built in 1944 and with three runways, said there were two explosions at the building and everyone was ordered to leave immediately.

France is seeking Abdeslam’s extradition so he can stand trial for his alleged role in the November 13 rampage of gunfire and suicide bombings which killed 130 people in Paris. (Agencies)