The Latest: Brussels airport could reopen on the weekend

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the extremist attacks in Brussels and Paris (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Brussels airport authorities say they are ready to resume flights from the bomb-damaged facility soon but not before the weekend.

Belgium’s civil aviation authority and the fire department have given their approvals to a reopening following testing on Tuesday, one week after the suicide bombings.

Operating company Brussels Airport said in a statement Thursday that the airport is “technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in.”

Flights will resume once political approval to reopen is granted, but not before Friday evening. Due to the damage, the airport will be able to run only at 20 percent of normal capacity.

The area where arriving passengers transit was only slightly damaged and is ready for use.


12:20 p.m.

Authorities are searching a wooded, residential area close to the French border amid reports that the action is linked to the recent arrest of a man in Paris suspected of planning an attack.

Soldiers were seen looking for clues in a wooded area closes to Kortijk in western Belgium, only miles from the French border.

Local media, citing federal prosecutors, said it was linked to the arrest of Reda Kriket, who is accused of participating in a terrorist group with plans for at least one imminent attack, possessing and transporting arms and explosives, and holding fake documents.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that Kriket is believed to have traveled to Syria in 2014 and 2015 and made several trips between France and Belgium.

At least three other people are in custody in the case in Belgium and the Netherlands.


12:10 p.m.

Brussels airport police say they criticized security at Belgium’s main transport hub well ahead of the March 22 attacks.

In an open letter to their superiors and the airport authorities that they provided to The Associated Press Thursday, police said they had sent “strong daily signals regarding the overall security at the airport.”

They complained that “there had not been any security control of passengers or luggage from the airport complex right up to the centralized body searches” area.

The letter said the lack of security was such that police fear “scouts were sent out to assess the security lapses and plan terror.”

The airport police also complain that too many airport employees have criminal backgrounds.


11:05 a.m.

A lawyer for Salah Abdeslam, a prime suspect in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, says his client wants to cooperate with the French authorities and wants to be transferred to France from his prison in Belgium.

Lawyer Cedric Moisse said Abdeslam is not resisting extradition after his March 18 arrest, and would want it to happen rather quickly.

Abdeslam is accused of helping to plan and execute the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. After crossing back into Belgium the day after the attacks he was Europe’s No. 1 fugitive until Belgian authorities caught him on March 18.

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