Belgian police break up street protests as attack investigation widens

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Belgian Police Confront Protesters in Brussels Square

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- Belgian police briefly used water cannon to control several hundred rowdy protesters in central Brussels on Sunday after they ignored an official call for marches to be postponed following Tuesday's bombings.

Amid fears of further attacks, officials wanted to give police the scope to focus on investigations which have widened to other countries, leading to the arrest of an Algerian in Italy and intelligence cooperation with Germany. Police carried out 13 new raids in Belgium itself.

Hundreds nevertheless gathered at the Bourse to express solidarity with the victims of the suicide bomb attacks at Brussels airport and on a rush-hour metro train. Thirty one people were killed, including three attackers, and hundreds more injured. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Most of the protests were peaceful but white-helmeted riot police used the water cannon against a group of protesters, many of whom local media described as right-wing nationalists, who burst onto the square chanting and carrying banners denouncing Islamic State.

"It is highly inappropriate that protesters have disrupted the peaceful reflection at the Bourse (stock exchange). I strongly condemn these disturbances," Prime Minister Charles Michel said according to Belga news agency.

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said the group were "scoundrels."

In and around Brussels and Antwerp, police carried out 13 new raids in connection with the attacks, with nine people questioned and five later released, the prosecutor's office said.

With links to the Paris attacks in November becoming clearer, and amid criticism that Europe has not done enough to share intelligence about suspected Islamist militants, cooperation appeared to be deepening.

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Belgian police break up street protests as attack investigation widens
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A man wears the Belgian flag as people observe a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A woman pauses for thought after people observed a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People observe a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A sad face is drawn on a Belgian flag near Maelbeek metro station following yesterday's attack, on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: Flowers and tributes, to the victims and injured, continue to adorn the Place de la Bourse following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: Sonia (surname witheld) embraces her children Mateo and Alessia at The Place de la Bourse as she pays her respects to victims following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A Belgian flag and a sign readng 'United Against Hatred' hangs from the Bourse De Brussels bulding in the Place de la Bourse following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People observe a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People pay their respects to the victims and injured at The Place de la Bourse following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People applaud after a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A woman covers her face near Maelbeek metro station as she reacts following yesterday's attack, on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: Flowers are placed near Maelbeek metro station following yesterday's attack, on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People observe a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: Flowers and tributes, to the victims and injured, continue to adorn the Place de la Bourse following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: A woman weeps after people observed a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: Sonia (surname witheld) embraces her children Mateo and Alessia at The Place de la Bourse as she pays her respects to victims following yesterday's terrorists attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A man places a candle for the victims of the bombings at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Bombs exploded yesterday at the Brussels airport and one of the city's metro stations Tuesday, killing and wounding scores of people, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
People mourn for the victims of the bombings at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Bombs exploded yesterday at the Brussels airport and one of the city's metro stations Tuesday, killing and wounding scores of people, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A woman lights a candle at a memorial for victims of attacks in Brussels on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Belgian authorities were searching Wednesday for a top suspect in the country's deadliest attacks in decades, as the European Union's capital awoke under guard and with limited public transport after scores were killed and injured in bombings on the Brussels airport and a subway station. (AP Photo/Valentin Bianchi)
A small child makes a drawing of the Maelbeek metro at a memorial for victims of attacks in Brussels on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Belgian authorities were searching Wednesday for a top suspect in the country's deadliest attacks in decades, as the European Union's capital awoke under guard and with limited public transport after scores were killed and injured in bombings on the Brussels airport and a subway station. (AP Photo/Valentin Bianchi)
Two people embrace at a memorial for victims of attacks in Brussels on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Belgian authorities were searching Wednesday for a top suspect in the country's deadliest attacks in decades, as the European Union's capital awoke under guard and with limited public transport after scores were killed and injured in bombings on the Brussels airport and a subway station. (AP Photo/Valentin Bianchi)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 23: People observe a one minute silence at the Place De La Bourse in honour of the victims of yesterdays' terror attacks on March 23, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is observing three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed in a twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport and a further bomb attack at Maelbeek Metro Station. Two brothers are thought to have carried out the airport attack and an international manhunt is underway for a third suspect. The attacks come just days after a key suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A person flashes a victory sign at a gathering in Brussels following Tuesday's bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
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Belgian press agency Belga said on Sunday prosecutors had charged a man in connection with a raid in Paris on Thursday that authorities say foiled an apparent attack plot.

Belga named him as Abderamane A. who prosecutors had said on Saturday was being held after being shot in a raid in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek.

After a series of raids in Belgium and Germany, Italian police also arrested Algerian Djamal Eddine Ouali who is suspected of making documents for militants linked to the bombings, Italian media said on Saturday.

His name was found in documents in a raid on an apartment near Brussels last October, including some with photos of militants involved in the attacks in Paris and in Brussels and the aliases they used.

WEB OF LINKS

As the web of links between the suspects and attacks emerges, German lawmakers said Europe urgently needed to improve the way its security agencies shared information.

But Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office was among the European security agencies still hunting for at least eight mostly French or Belgian suspects, Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported. They are thought to be on the run in Syria or Europe.

Belgian prosecutors also charged three men on Saturday including Faycal C., whom Belgian media identified as Faycal Cheffou and said he was "the man in the hat," as he has become known, in last Tuesday's airport CCTV footage that showed three men pushing baggage trolleys.

However, investigators have not confirmed that Cheffou is that man, a person close to the investigation told Reuters.

A video posted on social media outlets used by Islamic State on Saturday showed a Belgian militant in the group's de facto capital Raqqa, Syria, taunting his home country in Flemish.

"You learned nothing from the lessons of Paris, because you continued fighting Islam and the Muslims. For this I want to tell you that the attack in Brussels is reaping what you had sown with your own hands," Hicham Chaib, whose nom de guerre was given as Abu Hanifa al-Beljiki, said.

"Just as you bomb the Muslims with your F-16s, we will fight your people."

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified by Reuters.

Officials said 24 victims from nine different nationalities had been identified so far from the attacks in Brussels, where the European Union and NATO have their headquarters. Fourteen were identified at the airport and 10 on the metro. A further four people remain unidentified.

In addition, 340 people were wounded, according to the latest official toll on Saturday, of whom 101 are still in hospital, 62 of them in intensive care, many with severe burns.

Away from the protests on the Bourse square, Brussels was largely quiet on Sunday, with many celebrating Easter but Monseigneur Jozef De Kesel, archbishop of Brussels, told Reuters it would be difficult to celebrate as usual.

"The foundations of our society, freedom, respect for others, have been hit, attacked," he said.

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