BRUSSELS – The Latest on the attacks that left 31 dead and 270 wounded in Brussels. (all times local):
A State Department official confirms that two more Americans have been identified as killed in the attacks in Brussels, bringing to four the total number of U.S. citizens confirmed as victims.
An official confirmed the deaths on grounds of anonymity Sunday night because this person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official did not disclose the identities of the victims “out of respect for the families in this difficult time.”
Officials have said previously that at least a dozen Americans were injured in the attacks last Tuesday.
Earlier Sunday, the White House said that President Barack Obama had telephoned the parents of an American couple identified as among the dead in the attacks.
The White House said Obama offered his condolences and praised Justin and Stephanie Shults as epitomizing all that was good about America.
Justin Shults was originally from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and his wife, Stephanie, was a native of Lexington, Kentucky. They graduated together from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. A family member says they were dropping Stephanie’s mother off at the Brussels airport and were watching her walk through security when the bombs went off.
— Associated Press writer Merrill Hartson contributed to this report.
Some 150 Jordanian Christians have attended a prayer service for the victims of last week’s bombing attacks in Belgium.
The Belgian ambassador to Jordan joined Sunday’s service at the Mary of Nazareth Roman Catholic Church in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The diplomat, Hendrik Van de Velde, says that prayers are an important gesture and that “it means a lot to the Belgian people.”
The White House says President Barack Obama has telephoned the parents of an American couple who died in last week’s terror attacks in Brussels.
The White House says Obama offered his condolences on Sunday afternoon and praised Justin and Stephanie Shults as epitomizing all that was good about America.
Justin Shults was originally from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and his wife, Stephanie, was a native of Lexington, Kentucky. They graduated together from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. A family member says they were dropping Stephanie’s mother off at the airport and were watching her walk through security when the bombs went off.
The White House says the president also assured their parents that the thoughts, prayers and resolve of the nation are with them at this difficult time.
More than 300 soccer hooligans clad in black have clashed with riot police after rallying in central Brussels where a temporary shrine has been made for victims of Tuesday’s attacks.
Police Commissioner Christian De Coninck said Sunday that “we had 340 hooligans from different football clubs who came to Brussels and we knew for sure that they would create some trouble.”
Riot police backed by water cannon surrounded the group, whose members held a banner denouncing the Islamic State group that claimed responsibility for the bombings, and forced them toward a nearby train station.
Chairs, trash cans and other objects were thrown during the chase.
De Coninck said “it was a very difficult police operation because lots of families with kids were here.”
He said around 10 people were arrested and that two police officers were injured.
A Brussels square that has been a memorial site turned agitated on Sunday when black-clad men started shouting slogans and carrying a banner with an expletive against the Islamic State group.
Hundreds of people were remembering the 31 victims of Tuesday’s attacks when dozens of men, some in balaklavas and anonymous masks, barged to the centre of Place de la Bourse and mounted the steps of the stock exchange building.
Riot squads joined plainclothes policemen to move the protesters away from the square. A water cannon sprayed the protesters.
The anti-IS rally came despite government appeals not to hold a march against fear Sunday in Brussels since the security forces were stretched too thinly to provide security.
Belgian authorities have held police raids in Brussels and two other Belgian cities and kept four of the people they picked up under detention.
The federal prosecutor’s office says the raids are linked a “federal case regarding terrorism” but did not specify whether it had anything to do with the March 22 suicide bombing attacks in Brussels that killed 31 people and left 270 wounded.
The 13 raids in Brussels and the northern cities of Mechelen and Duffel came early Sunday. An investigating judge will decide later Sunday whether the four new suspects will remain in custody. Five others were released after questioning.
Messages of sadness, solidarity and grief left for victims of the bomb attack at a Brussels subway station are being collected for storage in the Belgian capital’s archives.
The messages are being laid Sunday on kitchen paper to dry after overnight rain and carefully stacked for transport. Those that can’t be taken for safe keeping are photographed.
Head archivist Frederic Boquet says “we are trying to collect as many documents we can find and they will be preserved at the Brussels Archives.”
Catholic priest Philippe Sandstrom says “archives are always important for life, and for the future.”
Marina Queralt, who often walks with her dog by the Maelbeek metro station that was hit by a suicide bomber, says the public response to the attacks has been very spontaneous and focused on peace.
She said “every morning, every afternoon, it was packed with people who wanted just one thing: that people stop killing each other.”
Italian police say they have arrested an Algerian man wanted by Belgian authorities for alleged involvement in a Belgium-based network of false IDs used by suspects implicated in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
The man, arrested near Salerno, came to Italy’s attention by applying for a residency permit. Police Sunday noted he had the same name of man sought by Belgium for alleged involvement in “a criminal network dedicated to false documents on a large scale” that emerged last year in Brussels.
Belgium issued a warrant in January, three months after a raid in the Brussels suburb of Saint-Gilles yield about a 1,000 digital images used for false documents.
Police are investigating why the man was in Italy and expect extradition procedures to begin. They didn’t identify the man or specify when he was arrested.
Sweden has confirmed that another Swedish woman was among the victims of the suicide bombings in Brussels.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Cecilia Gillberg says the woman in her thirties from northern Sweden was killed in Tuesday’s subway attack. Gillberg did not identify the victim or give other details Sunday.
The government earlier said that a Swedish woman in her sixties from central Sweden was also killed in the attacks. Two Swedish men were slightly injured in the bombings Tuesday at Brussels Airport and a city subway station that left 31 dead and 270 wounded.
Belgium’s interior minister says the Belgian government has invested 600 million euros ($670 million) into police and security services over the past two years but acknowledged that neglect over decades had caused deficiencies that have hampered an effective response to violent extremism.
Minister Jan Jambon said errors were made in the run-up to the March 22 Brussels attacks that killed at least 31 people and wounded 270 others, but says fresh investments need time before they become visible. He said Sunday that hiring anti-terror specialists and specialized equipment could not happen in weeks or months.
Jambon says “it is also not because you put the money in now, that tomorrow all this is visible on the ground.”
Italian police in the southern city of Salerno say they have arrested an Algerian wanted in Belgium for facilitating illegal migration linked to the attacks in Paris.
The police announcement was made on their official Twitter account. No other details are immediately available Sunday morning.