Belgian ministers offered resignations over attacks, PM rejected: Reports
BRUSSELS – Reuters
AFP photoBelgium’s interior and justice ministers offered their resignations over the Brussels attacks but they were rejected by Prime Minister Charles Michel, Belgian media said on March 24.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens were not immediately available for comment.
Belgian authorities are facing embarrassment after Turkey said on March 23 that last year Ankara deported back to Europe Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on March 22, and warned Belgium he was a militant.
“Belgium ignored our warning that this person is a foreign fighter,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 23.
Geens said March 23 that he was aware one of the Brussels attackers had been sent to the Netherlands from Turkey, but denied that he had been flagged as a possible terrorist.
The attacks at the Zaventem airport and the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels on March 22 killed at least 31 people and wounded 270 others. The Attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A second attacker, who is suspected of taking part in the bombing could be at large, according to Belgian and French media reports.
The chief suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was summoned to court in Brussels in the morning of March 24 after his arrest last week in the Belgian capital. His lawyer, who had initially vowed to fight extradition, said Abdeslam now wants to be sent to France as soon as possible.
Belgian prosecutors have said at least four people were involved in the attacks, including brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, identified as suicide bombers. European security officials identified another suicide bomber as Najim Laachraoui, a suspected bombmaker for the Paris attacks.
Prosecutors have said another suspected participant in the airport attack is at large, a man in a hat seen in surveillance images who has not been publicly identified.
Belgian state broadcaster RTBF and France’s Le Monde and BFM television reported March 24 that a fifth attacker may also be at large: a man filmed by surveillance cameras in the Brussels metro on March 22 carrying a large bag alongside Khalid El Bakraoui. RTBF said it is not clear whether that man was killed in the attack.