Brussels attacks trial: Third bomb could have exploded if someone had touched bag
The third bomb left behind at Brussels airport could have gone off if someone had touched the travel bag, a former director of the Belgian army's demining service (Dovo) declared on Wednesday during the trial of the 22 March 2016 attacks. "The composition of the explosives was not very stable; a simple shock by an aid worker could have set off the bomb," the witness said.
The man testified about how he witnessed the day of the attacks. He was on call at the moment of the first blast and decided that his team would head towards the airport with an additional fourth person.
"I have some experience, but when I arrived, it was utter chaos," the officer testified. The team found abandoned cars and luggage all over the scene and had little or no information available. "I saw bodies, I saw people receiving medical attention outside. Then I thought to myself: 'we are no longer in Brussels; we are in Afghanistan'. You fall back into fighting mode, into what you have learned. It was horrible to do that in Belgium," he said. "I went to get my gun from the car and called on my men to do the same."
Dovo's initial interventions included setting up a safety perimeter at the airport kiss-and-ride so that the area could be cleared for a sweep as soon as possible. Additionally, the team had to work out whether or not there was still any immediate danger, for example due to the presence of more explosives in the building.
Around noon, it became clear that there was possibly an unexploded third bomb in the building. Based on camera footage, the director of operations was able to locate the bomb approximately. After evacuating an area within 400 metres of the departure hall, he entered the airport building with his team and a police commissioner, eventually using x-ray analysis to locate the bag. Around 2 pm, Dovo neutralised the remaining bomb.
Chairman of the court Laurence Massart asked the witness whether the bomb could have exploded if someone had touched the bag. "The composition of the explosives was not very stable; a simple shock by an aid worker could have set off the bomb," he confirmed.
© BELGA PHOTO JANNE VAN WOENSEL KOOY