Investigators hunt more suspects after Brussels terror attacks

Updated 9:55 PM EDT, Sat March 26, 2016
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Nidhi Chaphekar, 41, was injured in the second blast at Brussels' Zaventem Airport on March 22, 2016 suffering burns and embedded metal to many areas of her body. A photo taken by Georgina journalist Ketevan Kardava shortly after the twin blasts came to sum up the tragedy of the attacks for many around the globe.
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Story highlights

NEW: Italian police say Algerian man arrested, suspected of connection to Brussels attacks

Belgian authorities charge man they called "Faycal C." with "terrorist murder" and other counts

Belgian authorities Saturday clarified death toll: 28 victims, 3 attackers

(CNN) —  

Belgian authorities said Saturday that the widely reported death toll of 31 from the terror attacks earlier this week in Brussels included the three suicide attackers, putting the tally of victims killed at 28.

The bodies of 14 victims were recovered at the Brussels Airport and 14 others at the Maelbeek metro station, officials said.

Authorities, meanwhile, continued the complex task of unraveling the plot behind Tuesday’s horrific bombings – announcing that they had charged one individual with “terrorist murder.”

The person, who was identified only as “Faycal C.” by Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office, was arrested Thursday by Belgian authorities and formally charged Friday. Authorities didn’t specify what role the person is suspected of having in the bombings at Brussels Airport and a downtown subway station that left 28 people dead and more than 300 injured.

Riding the mood of Brussels commuters

In addition to terrorist murder, Faycal C. faces charges of participation in terrorist activities and attempted terrorist murder, officials said.

No weapons or explosives were found in the person’s home, which Belgian authorities raided Thursday, the office said. Further details about Faycal C. were not immediately available.

Arrests have also taken place in other European countries. On Saturday, an Algerian national was taken into custody outside the southern Italian city of Salerno on suspicion of being part of a network producing fake residency documents linked to the Brussels attacks, the Italian National Police said.

The Algerian man was wanted in Belgium over his alleged involvement in clandestine immigration linked to the Paris attacks, police said via Twitter.

A tale of two Brussels: How terror shaped the capital of Europe

More victims identified

Authorities said 24 deceased victims have been positively identified: 13 were Belgians, and 11 were foreigners from eight nationalities. More than 300 people were injured.

President Barack Obama called the parents of Americans Justin and Stephanie Shults on Sunday to express his condolences, a White House official said.

“They are in heaven,” Moore told CNN.

The Italian Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed the death of Italian national Patricia Rizzo, who was killed in the attack on Maelbeek station.

The statement also said Jennifer Scintu Waetzmann, a German citizen of Italian origin, had died.

Who are the Brussels victims?

Searching for suspects

Faces of fear and hope

Residents of Brussels were trying, against the odds, to return to some sense of normalcy in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks.

But the task was complicated by the continuing official manhunt, complete with raids, gunfire, explosions and live news conferences. Officials were working with a sense of urgency – trying not only to assign responsibility for the attack, but as well to prevent future attacks – some of which may be in the planning stages.

Authorities are actively searching for a third man seen in surveillance video with two suicide bombers at the airport shortly before the attacks began. He’s wearing a hat and light-colored clothing, walking alongside ISIS bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui as they rolled luggage carts. This individual allegedly planted a bomb and left, investigators believe. That bomb didn’t go off immediately, though it did detonate later – by which time authorities were on site and no one was killed or injured.

Also being sought is a man who is seen in surveillance footage holding a large bag at a Brussels metro station before a blast ripped through a train car near the station, according to Belgian public broadcaster RTBF. Ibrahim El Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, was confirmed killed in that explosion, and it’s possible the unidentified man also died.

Faces of fear and hope

Police work to prevent another attack

Officials said Saturday that another man, arrested Friday at a subway station in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels, had not been charged. But a judge has allowed him to be held for another 24 hours, pending investigation.

And a person identified only as “Aboubakar A.” has been arrested and charged with participation in activities of a terrorist group, officials said. They did not say when or where he was arrested.

Nerves around Brussels were still jangling Saturday, not only from the explosions and arrests, but from the bitter fact that Brussels – aside from being the capital of Belgium and Europe – is also now the center of Europe’s fight against terrorism.

A peace march scheduled for Sunday in Brussels has been canceled amid security concerns, according to Sophie Barthélemi, one of the organizers. She said authorities requested the event be postponed.

“For sure we will do this event later,” she said via email.

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The effects are felt in neighborhoods swarmed by police, and near the sites of attacks. Brussels Airport won’t recommence passenger flights until Tuesday, at the earliest.

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“We all know that we are not safe anywhere,” one woman said. “It can happen anywhere and at any moment.”

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Can Europe stop the next attack?

French and Belgian police also are cooperating on what authorities say was a thwarted attack plot in the Paris area.

A message with birds in the colors of Belgium's flag was left at the memorial Place de la Bourse in central Brussels.
PHOTO: Carol Jordan, CNN
A message with birds in the colors of Belgium's flag was left at the memorial Place de la Bourse in central Brussels.

On Thursday, French police arrested Reda Kriket, 34, near Paris on suspicion of being in an “advance stage” of planning his own attack. Afterward, law enforcement found 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of TATP and a Kalashnikov rifle in a raid on his apartment in Argenteuil, on Paris’ outskirts, a source briefed on the investigation said.

On Saturday, Belgian authorities said they arrested someone named “Rabah N.” in connection with the investigation into Kriket. The suspect is charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said; information on where and when he was arrested wasn’t immediately available.

Investigators know of additional plots in Europe, in various stages of planning, linked to the same networks that were behind the November Paris attacks and the latest ones in Brussels, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Those terrorists are tied to ISIS, the Islamist extremist group that has taken over swaths of Syria and Iraq while also staging attacks elsewhere around the world.

How officials failed to join the dots

CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen reported from Brussels; Don Melvin wrote from London; CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Greg Botelho, Steve Almasy, Nick Paton Walsh, Holly Yan, Catherine E. Shoichet, Mick Krever, Phil Black, Anna Maja Rappard, Paul Cruickshank, Margot Haddad, Florence Attlee-Davey and journalist Pierre-Eliott Buet contributed to this report.