Brussels warns against solidarity march in wake of suicide bombings

Belgian politicians on Saturday implored people not to take part in a so-called March Against Fear in Brussels this weekend, with the ongoing investigation into recent terrorist attacks keeping the capital on edge.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur asked people not to take part in the Sunday event, pointing to limited "police capacity" and the need to prioritize the investigation into the bombings, according to Belga news agency.

"We of course share the emotion of the population," the officials said. "But we would like for the marches to be delayed by a few weeks."

Nearly 6,000 Facebook users had confirmed they would attend the solidarity march, set to start at 2 pm local time (1500 GMT) on Sunday at the Place de la Bourse, where locals have created a memorial with flowers and candles since Tuesday's attacks.

The city of Brussels asked for the event to be postponed on Twitter.

The warning came as investigators try to piece together who orchestrated Tuesday's attacks on the airport and a Brussels subway station, which left at least 31 people dead and some 340 injured.

Belga reported that 24 of the victims have been identified so far, quoting a Brussels prosecution spokeswoman. It also reported that among those injured, 101 remain in the hospital, 23 of whom are in intensive care, quoting a Health Ministry spokesman.

Earlier Saturday, federal prosecutors said a man detained earlier this week has been charged with terrorist murder in connection with the attacks. Media reports claimed he may have fled during the bombings at the Belgian capital's airport.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office identified the charged suspect only as Faycal C, but local media reported his full name as Faycal Cheffou. He was taken into custody on Thursday evening.

Faycal C has been placed under arrest and charged with terrorist murder, attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group, the prosecutors said. His home has been searched, but no weapons or explosives were found.

A taxi driver who drove the attackers to the Brussels airport on Tuesday morning picked him out of a photo array, the newspaper Le Soir and the state broadcaster RTBF reported.

Prosecutors, waiting for the results of DNA analyses, had not yet confirmed Faycal C as the suspected third airport bomber, RTBF added.

The yet-unidentified fugitive suspect had been caught on video surveillance with the two suicide bombers who died in the airport attack. A picture released by the police shows a man wearing a white jacket and black hat pushing an airport trolley with a black duffel bag on it.

Prosecutors say the man brought a bag to the airport containing "the most significant" explosive charge prepared for the attacks, but then abandoned it there and left. The device only went off after the attacks, once a bomb squad was on the scene.

The airport said it will not resume passenger flights before Tuesday, adding that it is working to implement new security measures imposed by the Belgian government and that a team of engineers has been granted access to assess the damage.

French authorities said they foiled a terrorist attack this week with the arrest on Thursday of a suspected terrorist whose plans for an attack were in an advanced state. He has been identified by Belgian prosecutors as Reda Kriket.

A man arrested on Friday morning in the Brussels neighbourhood of Saint-Gilles - identified only as Rabah N - has been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group in connection with Kriket's arrest, the prosecutors said Saturday.

The same charge has also been brought against a second man identified as Aboubakar A. But the prosecutors did not say which terrorist activities he was linked to.

Last update: Sat, 26/03/2016 - 17:41
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