31 killed in blasts at Brussels airport, metro
Brussels, March 22
Bombs exploded at the Brussels airport and one of the city’s metro stations today, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats.
The two airport blasts, at least one of them blamed on a suicide bomber, left behind a chaotic scene of splattered blood in the departure lounge as windows were blown out, ceilings collapsed and travellers streamed out of the smoky building.
About an hour later, another bomb exploded on a rush-hour subway train near the European Union headquarters. Terrified passengers had to evacuate through darkened tunnels to safety.
“What we feared has happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters. “In this time of tragedy, this black moment for our country, I appeal to everyone to remain calm but also to show solidarity.”
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, diverting planes and trains and ordering people to stay where they were. Airports across Europe immediately tightened security.
“We are at war,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting in Paris. “We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”
Added French President Francois Hollande: “Terrorists struck Brussels, but it was Europe that was targeted.”
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike.
The arrest on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose.
ISIS claims responsibility
BRUSSELS: The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels, saying its extremists opened fire in the airport and “several of them” detonated suicide belts.
The posting in the group’s Amaq news agency said another suicide attacker detonated in the metro.
The posting claimed the attack was in response to Belgium’s support of the international coalition arrayed against it.
Authorities urge media blackout on probe
BRUSSELS: Belgian authorities urged the media to refrain from reporting on the probe into triple bomb attacks in Brussels on Tuesday that killed at least 31 after some said raids were under way in the city.
“The federal prosecutor notes that certain journalists are reporting information about the investigation under way,” a statement said.
“The federal prosecutor urges the press to immediately refrain from conveying information relative to the investigation so as not to harm the inquiry,” it said.