'Most terrible and devastating news' as Hartlepool man David Dixon confirmed dead in Brussels terrorist attacks

David Dixon.
David Dixon.

A Hartlepool man who has been missing since the deadly terror attacks in Brussels has been confirmed dead.

The family of Briton David Dixon, 53, who is originally from Hartlepool but was living in the Belgian capital, said they had received "the most terrible and devastating news".

At least 32 people were killed and 270 injured when suicide bombs ripped through the airport and a Metro station on Tuesday morning.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Dixon's family said: "This morning we received the most terrible and devastating news about our beloved David. At this most painful time our family would gratefully appreciate it if we could be left alone to grieve in private. Please respect our wishes."

A statement from the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm David Dixon lost his life in the attacks which took place in Brussels on Tuesday 22 March 2016. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time and our Embassy staff are continuing to support them.

"We know of seven British nationals who were injured in the attacks - three are still being treated in hospital. Our Embassy staff are working to assist all British nationals affected."

Mr Dixon, an IT programmer, had been missing since the Metro blast, and his family previously said they were "anxiously waiting" and hoping for "good news" about him.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I am deeply saddened to hear David Dixon was killed in the Brussels attacks. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family."

Belgian prosecutors have said six people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

Three terrorists died in the explosions and a massive manhunt was launched to track down other suspects believed to be behind the blasts.

Belgian prosecutors said the arrests were made during raids in central Brussels, Jette and the Schaerbeek neighbourhood - where police found a large stash of explosives and other bomb-making material earlier this week in a flat believed to be used by the suicide bombers.

The arrests came as officers in France swooped on a man suspected of being in the "advanced stages" of a plot to attack the country, in a raid on the outskirts of Paris.

France's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said there were no links "at this stage" between the plot and the terror attacks in Brussels and in Paris in November.

Belgian security services were hunting two men pictured with the suicide bombers shortly before the attacks and believed to be on the run.

One of the men was caught on CCTV carrying a large bag and walking with jihadist Khalid El Bakraoui moments before the bomb detonated, according to state broadcaster RTBF and France's Le Monde newspaper.

Another of the suspected killers, dubbed "the man in white", was pictured pushing a trolley through Zaventem Airport with Najim Laachraoui and Khalid's brother Ibrahim before they blew themselves up.

Meanwhile, a US official said at least two American citizens were killed in the attacks.

The news came as secretary of state John Kerry was visiting Brussels to express his condolences to the Belgian people.

Mr Kerry said the "United States is praying and grieving with you for the loved ones of those cruelly taken from us, including Americans, and for the many who were injured in these despicable attacks".

He did not give a specific number but a senior official said the families of two Americans had been informed of their deaths.

In a speech, Mr Kerry said: "We - all of us representing countless nationalities - have a message for those who inspired or carried out the attacks here or in Paris, or in Ankara, in Tunis, San Bernardino, or elsewhere: We will not be intimidated.

"We will not be deterred. And we will come back with greater resolve, with greater strength, and we will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of this Earth."

The Netherlands' foreign minister said three Dutch citizens were killed in the bombing at Brussels airport.

Bert Koenders said the victims were a woman from the eastern city of Deventer and a brother and sister from the southern Limburg province who live in the US.

A Chinese citizen was also confiemd among the dead.

Mr Kerry said the fact Daesh is "resorting to actions outside of the Middle East" is because its "fantasy of a caliphate is collapsing before their eyes".

He said: "Its territory is shrinking everyday. Its leaders are being decimated. Its revenue sources are dwindling. And its fighters are fleeing."

But he said eliminating the threat will take "some time, and patience and persistence", adding that he is "absolutely confident" that the fight against the terrorists will be successful.