BELGIUM raised the death toll from the Brussels attacks to 35 and charged three terror suspects Monday as police across Europe stepped up efforts to unravel an Islamic State network linked to the carnage.
According to AFP, Police released a new video of a third suspect in the March 22 Zaventem airport attack, the so-called “man in the hat” seen with two other suicide bombers, who escaped after his bomb failed to explode.
Mourners were set to hold an Easter Monday church service in memory of the victims of the bombings at the airport and at Maalbeek metro station, Belgium’s worst ever terror attack.
The tensions in Belgium were underscored on Sunday when police used water cannon to disperse far-right football hooligans chanting anti-immigrant slogans disrupted the makeshift memorial to the victims in central Brussels.
Announcing the new death toll, Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block tweeted: “Four patients deceased in hospital. Medical teams did all possible. Total victims: 35. Courage to all the families.”
Prosecutors’ spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch confirmed the new death toll to reporters at the government crisis centre, adding that it did not include the three attackers.
“We have counted today 35 victims of the attacks at Zaventem and Maalbeek. These figures include four people who died in hospital after the attacks, and 31 victims who died immediately at the scene of the crime,” she said.
Twenty-eight victims had been formally identified, she said. The US State Department on Sunday confirmed the death of two more Americans, bringing the total to four.
– Three terror charges –
As Belgium struggles to come to terms with the tragedy, recriminations continue over whether the authorities could and should have done more to prevent the carnage, as the links to the November Paris attacks by the IS group grow clearer by the day.
Prosecutors said three men arrested at the weekend in a series of raids had been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” while a fourth person had been released.
The men identified as Yassine A., Mohamed B. et Aboubaker O. were held during 13 raids in Brussels and the towns of Mechelen and Duffel.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told AFP that “no direct link has been established with the Brussels attacks”.