Brussels attacks death toll rises to 35

Brussels attacks death toll rises to 35

BRUSSELS – Agence France-Presse
Brussels attacks death toll rises to 35

AP photo

Belgian officials on March 28 raised the death toll from last week’s devastating Islamic State of ıRaq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide attacks on Brussels airport and the metro to 35.  

Officials from the government’s crisis center said 31 people died at the two attack sites and four had died in hospital. This figure does not include the three ISIL bombers, who were also killed in the attack. 

“The prosecutor has figures for the people who died at the scene of the crime... and the health authority is responsible for the people who died in hospital in the hours following the attacks,” Belgian prosecutors’ spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch told reporters.

Belgian authorities had lowered the toll to 28 at the weekend from 31, before raising it back to 31 on the night of March 27.  

Health Minister Maggie De Block tweeted: “Four patients deceased in hospital. Medical teams did all possible. Total victims: 35. Courage to all the families.”

Meanwhile, Belgian prosecutors said that the sole suspect charged over the attacks was released March 28 following a lack of evidence linking him to the carnage.

“The indications that led to the arrest of Faycal C. were not substantiated by the ongoing inquiry. As a result, the subject has been released by the examining magistrate,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement, without giving further details.

Belgian media had identified the man as Faycal Cheffou who claimed to be a freelance journalist.

Cheffou was charged on March 26 with “taking part in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder.”

Brussels prosecutors on March 28 said they had charged three more people, Yassine A., Mohamed B. and Aboubaker O. , with participating in a terrorist group and released a fourth person they had detained for questioning. 

Dutch anti-terrorism police on March 27 arrested a 32-year-old man in Rotterdam on suspicion of preparing an attack on France and also detained three other people, national prosecutors said. 

“French authorities on March 25 requested the arrest of the French citizen, who had been identified in a terrorism investigation,” prosecutors said in a statement. He was suspected of “involvement in preparing a terrorist attack.” 

The arrests were carried out by a specialized anti-terrorism police squad, and the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD and prosecutors also took part in the operation, prosecutors said. 

Two of the others detained were described as aged 43 and 47 and “having an Algerian background,” while the third had not yet been identified.