Brussels bombings: Fresh arrest over metro and airport attacks

Memorial in Brussels, 17 AprilImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Three suicide bombers killed 32 people at Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station

Belgian police have arrested another suspect in connection with the attacks on the Brussels metro system and international airport on 22 March.

The man was identified by federal prosecutors only as Ali E.H.A. aged 31.

He was arrested on suspicion of "terrorist murders" during a search of a house in the Schaerbeek area of the Belgian capital on Thursday.

Three suicide bombers killed 32 people at Brussels international airport and the Maelbeek metro station.

The prosecutors' statement said: "The Belgian national Ali E.H.A., born on 23rd September 1984, was arrested and later put in detention by the investigating judge for participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders, as a perpetrator, co-perpetrator or accomplice."

The prosecutors gave no further information, although Belgian media said the man was being held at Nivelles prison. He is believed to be the 10th suspect arrested. Several have been charged.

Media caption,
Brussels explosions: Timeline of events

La Derniere Heure quoted sources as saying the man was suspected of playing a role in the hideouts of those who carried out the attacks.

A statement from prosecutors on Thursday, the last prior to the arrest, said that six people suspected of involvement in the Belgian attacks had now had their detention extended.

One of them is Mohamed Abrini, who police say has confessed to being the "man in the hat" - the third airport bomber who fled without detonating his device.

Four others arrested in Belgium and suspected of links to those who carried out attacks in Paris last November also had their custody extended, the Belgian prosecutors said. The gun and bomb attacks in the French capital killed 130 people.

Belgian prosecutors say Abrini has told them that the original plan had been to target France but it was switched to Brussels when fellow Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam was arrested in the Belgian capital on 18 March.

The Brussels airport bombings were carried out by Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, while the metro bomber was Khalid el-Bakraoui, Ibrahim's brother.

Abdeslam has been extradited to France.