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Belgian Prosecutors Release Man Detained In Antiterror Raids

  • RFE/RL

Belgian police take part in a search in the Brussels borough of Schaerbeek following deadly bombings in Brussels on March 22 that were claimed by Islamic State and killed at least 35 people.

Belgian police take part in a search in the Brussels borough of Schaerbeek following deadly bombings in Brussels on March 22 that were claimed by Islamic State and killed at least 35 people.

Belgian prosecutors released a man charged in connection with last week’s deadly bombings in Brussels, as the death toll in the attacks rose to 35.

The man was detained two days after the bombings, but the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a statement on March 28 that they did not have enough information to justify holding him.

The release of the man was a blow to the spiraling multinational investigation and added to growing doubts about the ability of Belgian security and law-enforcement agencies to both prevent terrorist attacks and prosecute perpetrators of them.

Meanwhile, three other people were ordered held by Belgian officials after being detained during a series of raids in Brussels and the northern cities of Mechelen and Duffel. They have been charged with involvement in terrorist group activities.

But it was unclear whether they were linked to the March 22 attacks at Brussels airport and a subway station that were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

Belgium's health minister said in a message posted to Twitter on March 28 that four more victims of the attacks had died from injuries, bringing the death toll to 35.

"Four patients deceased in hospital. Medical teams did all possible. Total victims: 35. Courage to all the families," Maggie De Block said.

Also on March 28, police issued a new appeal for witnesses, saying they were seeking to identify the man seen in a surveillance-camera video wearing a light jacket, with a hat pulled down over his face and glasses.

The suspected suicide bombers walking alongside him were dressed in black with their heads uncovered.

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for both Brussels attacks, and the one in Paris in November that killed 130 people.

Police in the Netherland, Germany, and Italy have also detained people in recent days as the dragnet for people linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks widened.

Four U.S. citizens died in the blasts, along with Belgians, British, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Swedish citizens.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa

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