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Brussels Update: Two Men Charged In Connection With Attacks


We'll start the program today in Belgium, where authorities are continuing to investigate Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the capital, Brussels. Thirty-one people were killed and nearly 300 wounded in bomb blasts at the main airport and on a metro train. Prosecutors in Brussels today filed terrorism charges against three men relating to the attacks as well as a separate French investigation.

Also in Brussels, a so-called March Against Fear, planned for tomorrow, has been called off because police say they are overextended and cannot ensure security. We go now to NPR correspondent Eleanor Beardsley, who is in Brussels for the latest. Eleanor, thanks for joining us.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: You're welcome, Michel.

MARTIN: So Eleanor, could you tell us about these charges and the people against whom they are made?

BEARDSLEY: Right. Well, there's charges for planning and carrying out terrorist murders. And one of the men who has been charged, the Belgian media is speculating, is that third man in the airport video of the suicide bombers pushing their carts with the bombs. Two blew themselves up, one left his bomb and left the airport and the Belgian media saying that is the man who has been charged. They give his first name, Faycal, and a last initial, C. And Belgian media is saying that he was a - may have been a person who is a self-proclaimed freelance journalist that worked in Brussels. So it's kind of strange.

MARTIN: That is strange. Could you tell us a bit more about the march that was canceled?

BEARDSLEY: Right. This march was against fear and - in fact, they called it off because, I guess - you know, they couldn't ensure security. I was out in Brussels' Place de la Bourse tonight, which is where people have been gathering since the attacks to lay flowers and to light candles, and people were really upset. They wanted to come out. They said it was a chance for Belgians of all ethnicities and religions to get together. But one man said he understood why it was canceled. Listen to what Ham Soete tells me.

HAM SOETE: I have mixed feeling because the last days - it's coming clearer and clearer the government really failed to deal with the terrorism. They knew the names. They knew everything. They failed to even to close down the Brussels metro, so I'm getting angry. And I really wanted to be here tomorrow to show that a lot of our people really don't get this. And on the other hand, I think there's still real danger of terrorism, so I have really a mixed feeling about it.

MARTIN: That's really interesting. Eleanor, before we let you go, can you tell us anything more about the deceased?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, one was a former Belgian ambassador to the U.S.. He died shielding his wife from the blast. She was wounded but lived. Thirteen foreigners are among the dead, and doctors who are treating them say these are war wounds. One doctor said he hasn't seen anything like this since he worked in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A lot of mutilation from the blow-back from the blast, and nearly every victim has burst eardrums.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting from Brussels. Eleanor, thank you.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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