BRUSSELS – Suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels were originally considering an attack on a nuclear site in Belgium, but arrests started last week may have forced them switch to targets in the Belgian capital, the DH newspaper said.
Referring to an incident in December that prosecutors confirmed in which militants covertly filmed the home of an unidentified senior official in the nuclear industry, the paper quoted a police source as saying that two of the suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui, had filmed the daily routine of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research and development program.
A 10-hour video from a camera hidden in front of the nuclear official’s house was found in December during a police raid in Belgium, linked to the Paris attacks a month before.
On February 17, Belgian prosecutors confirmed the existence of the video seized in December and said the man in it was linked to the country’s nuclear industry.
Earlier this month, 140 soldiers were dispatched to guard the country’s three nuclear sites. On Tuesday after the Brussels bombings, the sites were sealed and non-essential staff evacuated as a precaution.
A suicide bomber blew himself up at Brussels airport on Tuesday killing at least 14 people and a further blast tore through a rush-hour metro train in the capital shortly afterwards, claiming 20 lives, according to public broadcaster VRT.
CNN reported that up to 130 people were also injured in the attacks.
A witness said he heard shouts in Arabic shortly before two blasts struck the packed airport departure lounge. Pictures on social media showed smoke rising from the terminal building through shattered windows and passengers fleeing down a slipway, some still hauling their bags.
All public transport in Brussels was shut down, as it was in London during 2005 militant attacks on the underground that killed 52. A further 225 soldiers were sent into the city and the Belgian Crisis Centre, clearly wary of a further incident, appealed to the population: “Stay where you are”.