Belgium was told by the European Union to remedy gaps in its border security just weeks before suicide bombers attacked Brussels killing 31 people and wounding about 300, according to a report published Thursday.
The revelation that a list of recommendations was sent to Brussels in February urging it to repair its “deficient” security checks came amid Belgian and French media reports that a second attacker, possibly at large, is suspected in Tuesday’s metro bombing alongside Khalid El Bakraoui.
El Bakraoui’s brother Ibrahim, and Najim Laachraoui, were identified as two suicide bombers who targeted Brussels Airport the same day. A third unidentified airport suspect is still being sought by police.
The disclosure that the EU expressed its concerns to Belgium about serious security holes in its border controls was published by British newspaper the Daily Telegraph.
Turkey said it deported Ibrahim last year because it suspected him of being a militant but that Belgium did not take its concerns seriously.
The Belgian government did not return a request for comment on the EU report. However, Guy Rapaille, who chairs a committee that oversees Belgium’s security services, told state broadcaster RTBF that more intelligence coordination, particularly with the United States, was “desirable.”
Belgium’s Health Minister Maggie de Block said in a statement Wednesday that 61 people injured in the attacks remained in a critical condition and that the death toll may rise. She said that the injured represented 40 nationalities.
The country remains on high alert.
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