Around 35 dead as blasts rock Brussels airport, metro

Published: March 22, 2016
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SCREEN GRAB

SCREEN GRAB

BRUSSELS: A series of apparently coordinated explosions ripped through Brussels airport and a metro train on Tuesday, killing around 35 people in the latest attacks to target Europe.

Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, AFP reported.

“Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” the Aamaq news agency said.

Security was tightened across the jittery continent and transport links paralysed after the bombings that Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel branded “blind, violent and cowardly”.

“This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” Michel said on national television.

Foreign Minister Didier Reynders warned that authorities fear suspects are still at large in the city that is home to NATO and the European Union.

The bloodshed came just four days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels on Friday of Salah Abdeslam – the prime suspect in the Paris terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State group — after four months on the run.

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam leaves Brussels hospital

Belgian authorities had been on alert after Abdeslam, Europe’s most wanted man, told investigators he had been planning an attack on Brussels.

Two blasts targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport at around 8 am (0700 GMT), with prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying there was at least one suicide bomber.

A third hit a train at Maalbeek metro station near the European Union’s main buildings, just as commuters were making their way to work in rush hour.

Pierre Meys, spokesperson for the Brussels fire brigade, told AFP at least 11 people had been killed at the airport, while transport operator STIB said at least 15 had died in the underground blast and 55 were wounded.

Witnesses said victims lay in pools of blood at the airport, their limbs blown off. There were chaotic scenes as passengers fled in panic, with a thick plume of smoke rising from the main terminal building.

A picture taken on March 22, 2016 in Zaventem, shows the damaged facade of Brussels airport after at least 13 people were killed and 35 injured as twin blasts rocked the main terminal of Brussels airport. PHOTO: AFP

“A man shouted a few words in Arabic and then I heard a huge blast,” airport baggage security officer Alphonse Lyoura told AFP, his hands bloodied.

“A lot of people lost limbs. One man had lost both legs and there was a policeman with a totally mangled leg.”

The explosions triggered a transport shutdown in the city. Flights were halted with metro, tram and bus services all suspended.

Airports across Europe swiftly announced they were boosting security, including in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Across the Atlantic, New York and Washington ordered extra counter-terror officers to crowded areas and train stations.

Leaders across Europe reacted with shock and solidarity, urging cooperation in the fight against terrorism on a continent that has been on high alert for months.

“The whole of Europe has been hit,” said French President Francois Hollande, whose country is still reeling from jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned of the “very real” terrorist threat faced by countries across Europe, declaring: “We will never left these terrorists win.”

Russia and Turkey – also targets of deadly attacks in the last eight months – said the blasts highlighted the need to fight terrorism of every hue and across all borders.

Major international train lines into Brussels were suspended, while security was also beefed up at Belgium’s nuclear plants and at EU buildings in the French city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon announced that Belgium’s terror threat had been raised from three to a maximum of four, and the country’s national security council was due to meet.

Residents were told to stay inside, while Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged people to avoid making calls to stop the city’s mobile networks getting saturated, and to communicate online instead.

And after reports of arrests and searches, authorities told media to halt all reporting on the investigation into the bombings, “so as not to harm the inquiry”.

Islamic State flag found with dead Brussels gunman

In Cairo, the head of Sunni Islam’s leading seat of learning, Al-Azhar, said the attacks “violate the tolerant teachings of Islam,” and urged the international community to confront the “epidemic” of terrorism.

It has been a week of drama and bloodshed in Brussels. Last Tuesday saw a shootout in the city’s south that saw a Kalashnikov-wielding man killed and four police officers wounded.

Investigators believe key Paris suspect Abdeslam slipped out of the apartment as the gunbattle broke out. He was arrested three days later in Brussels’ gritty Molenbeek district — just around the corner from his family home.

Foreign Minister Reynders said at the weekend that Abdeslam – believed to have played a key logistical role in the Paris carnage – had told investigators he was planning some sort of new attack.

At the airport, shaken witnesses spoke of how the blasts sent ceiling tiles shattering to the floor and left a smell of gunpowder in the air.

“We heard the explosion and felt the blowback,” Jean-Pierre Lebeau, a French passenger who had just arrived from Geneva, told AFP, adding that he had seen wounded people and “blood in the elevator”.

Jean-Pierre Herman and his wife Tankrat Paui Tran embraced with shock on their faces.

“My wife just arrived,” Herman said. “I said hello, we took the elevator and in the elevator we heard the first bomb.

“When we came out of the elevator at that moment the second bomb exploded and then we saw doors flying, (the) glass ceiling come down and smoke.”

At Maalbeek station, people with bloodied faces were treated by emergency services on the pavement, an AFP reporter said.

PM Nawaz condemns Brussels attacks

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the attacks.

“Those responsible for killing of innocent people are devoid of humanity,” he said in a statement.

He also extended his heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families.

“Terrorism is not a threat to any single country or nation, but to the whole humanity and it is high time that this menace is collectively fought for safeguarding our future generations,” the prime minister said.

Suggesting the international countries to put up a joint resistance, Nawaz stressed on fight against terrorism for wiping out the evil from all parts of the world.

“No religion advocates terrorism and killings of innocent people. The terrorists label themselves as associated with different religious faiths and beliefs while their actions are in contrary to the religious teachings,” the prime minister said.

Pakistani embassy in Brussels cancels 23rd March 2016 celebrations

PHOTO: Embassy of Pakistan, Brussels

Pope slams ‘blind violence’ in Brussels, prays for victims

Pope Francis has slammed the ‘blind violence’ of a series of coordinated explosions in Brussels, offering his prayers for the victims.

“Pope Francis entrusts to God’s mercy those killed, and shares through prayer the suffering of their relatives,” the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said in a telegram to Jozef De Kesel, the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

“The Holy Father once again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and, imploring the gift of peace from God, invokes divine blessings on the bereaved families and the Belgian people,” the telegram said.

Francis expressed his “deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to relief”.

Obama condemns ‘outrageous’ Brussels attacks

President Barack Obama has condemned the “outrageous” attacks in Brussels, saying the United States would do everything in its power to hunt down those responsible.

“We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world,” he said, speaking in the Cuban capital Havana.

Belgian police issue wanted notice for airport attack suspect

Belgian police issued a wanted notice for a suspect in the bomb attack on Brussels airport on Tuesday in which at least 14 people were killed.

A CCTV picture of the suspect shows a bespectacled man with a goatee beard, wearing a white jacket and black hat, and pushing a trolley with a large black bag.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (33)

  • Gramps
    Mar 22, 2016 - 12:34PM

    I wonder who these people are?Recommend

  • True
    Mar 22, 2016 - 1:13PM

    @Gramps:
    The follower of peaceful religion.Recommend

  • Hobo
    Mar 22, 2016 - 2:01PM

    The NWO won’t let the world stay in peace. They will keep on doing such acts.Recommend

  • Joe
    Mar 22, 2016 - 2:07PM

    @Gramps:
    You do not know .Dish out some conspiracy theory please .Recommend

  • Travis
    Mar 22, 2016 - 2:30PM

    This kind of ideology has to be dealt a death blow once and for all. Trump was right. These people don’t belong in civilised nations!Recommend

  • Rashid
    Mar 22, 2016 - 2:38PM

    This is wrong. This is very wrong. This is very, very wrong.Recommend

  • Raw is War
    Mar 22, 2016 - 2:41PM

    I was in Brussels in 2011 and even at that time, Arab boys were busy stealing and snatching bags from travellers. I had my bag stolen along with my passport by North African boys. Police were just least helpful there. Thy were not even willing to act. This kind of situation has developed now- and it is not due to accident.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Mar 22, 2016 - 3:43PM

    All those who are blaming Islam and Muslims, they should learn before commenting, Around 1.6 billion adherents of Islam if you take the percent of those who are involved in an attack would be 0.00001 percent,now for this amount you brain dead, especially biased Indians blaming all the Muslim community and the religion. by the way this 0.00001 percent all are not Muslims majority of them are being funded either by RAW USA and Musad. so please condemn the attack like all of us, but stay away from analytical thinking, which none of you is capable of.Recommend

  • Gujesh
    Mar 22, 2016 - 4:10PM

    Donald Trump’s victory is now guaranteed.Recommend

  • European
    Mar 22, 2016 - 4:31PM

    ANother act by followers of a certain faith… ban follwers of this faith from Eruope Recommend

  • Expert
    Mar 22, 2016 - 4:33PM

    Yup. Pre and post Trauma you seem to understand Arabic! You clearly differentiate it among all languages thereRecommend

  • Unknown
    Mar 22, 2016 - 5:02PM

    @True:

    People like you also used to say earth is flat. Get some education Recommend

  • Roussou
    Mar 22, 2016 - 5:28PM

    A war has been declared on Europe. Horrible people doing horrible things.Recommend

  • Rao
    Mar 22, 2016 - 5:47PM

    One should wait until all evidence comes to light before one accuses the bombers of militant Islam or ISIL. Most people wouldn’t know and able to distinguish between Arabic , Urdu, Persian , Hindi or Burmese accents…. But put the blame on Muslims first. These perpetrators of crime could be some nationalists from Ukraine- who knows-, ?Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Mar 22, 2016 - 6:52PM

    The likes of Donald Trump will surely win if this continues … Recommend

  • zakiurlakhvi
    Mar 22, 2016 - 6:56PM

    Trump has been vindicated, once again … !!Recommend

  • ZAK
    Mar 22, 2016 - 7:08PM

    Brutal act by enemies of humanity,enemies of peace and enemies of tranquality.
    It is evil planned.

    Surprise me that it happened despite hightened security across Europe especially in Belgium.

    May be bomber succeeded to enter such a high security zone due to lack of concentration by deputed security personnel.

    You cannot rule out an insider who may have helped them.Recommend

  • harry
    Mar 22, 2016 - 7:11PM

    Sad event, when will it end?
    on a side note embassy of Pakistan in Brussels could have at least used the correct spelling of Pakistan in the heading. The misspelled it as ‘Paksitan’. Lack of professionalism as always due to favoritism and nepotism.Recommend

  • Travis
    Mar 22, 2016 - 7:49PM

    Trump was right all along. Report them en-masse or keep suffering. Close down the places that preach hate. Ban outward show of religious artifacts. Take back Europe from the barbarian horde.Recommend

  • Point
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:16PM

    @True:
    These are those whose children, wife, brothers, sisters are killed by the forces of peaceful western forces!!Recommend

  • Point
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:18PM

    @Travis:
    Which people!! ? The one who are killing innocents in millions of number and destroyed Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey ?? Would you please elaborate because I have seen many children dead since 2001 in these countries by some western peaceful forces!!Recommend

  • Point
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:20PM

    This is definitely sad and innocents have died sadly :( but if you keep killing children, women, and innocent people in Middle east, then expect the same because it’s a war you have waged and in war enemy has the right to strike backRecommend

  • Paul
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:39PM

    @Gujesh: Sadly I think you’re right. Trump is a dangerous individual. He’s racist and has a following that seems to promote his ways.

    Let’s just hope for all of our sakes that America sees sense and doesn’t vote for him ultimately.

    Best wishes,

    P.Recommend

  • genesis
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:48PM

    @True:
    and a message of peaceful intentions… with an ardent wish to settle down there as wellRecommend

  • genesis
    Mar 22, 2016 - 9:52PM

    @Hassan:
    Agree with your views but look at it in another way.What is this 1.6 billion doing to allow 0.0000000001% who indulge in these cats of killing ana mayhem or is this ‘silent majority’ does not ant to offend themRecommend

  • Raj - USA
    Mar 22, 2016 - 10:42PM

    @Raw is War:
    You have mentioned about your stolen bag. Let me tell you my experience.

    About 10 years ago, I was visiting UK, Germany and France with my friend from India. We traveled by overnight train from Munich to Paris. We had already made our hotel bookings in Paris. When we landed at Paris railway station, one person of african/arab descent approached us and offered hotel rooms. We told him that we already have bookings. He still would not leave us and kept following us repeating his offers. We hired a cab and were loading our luggage. I loaded my suitcase and wanted to load my hand bag also. I just could not find it. It was stolen. The person who was offering us rooms was still there. In my first reaction, I started to blame that person for distracting us and that he was also a part of the thieves who stole my bag. I started to shout and call for police also. Immediately, from nowhere, 4 or 5 cops came running to us. One showed his badge and told me not to worry and that they know where the thieves are and would get my bag. My concern was mainly for my lap-top computer in the bag and was concerned that the thieves may steel my personal information in the computer and use it to scam me. One of the cop was a woman. She and one of her male companion cop started to run towards the hideout of the thieves. She was so energetic, fit and athletic that she ran so fast, jumped over the 3-4 feet high road blocks with ease and was going after the thieves. Within 10 minutes she and the other cop with her caught the thief and recovered my bag. They asked me to come to the police station with them and take the bag after filing a complaint. I did so. They did not even open my bag or check my computer and gave it back to me. I thanked them and told them that I was very impressed with the lady cop who jumped the road block so easily and recovered my bag. I was full of praises for her and her companion. I told them that she was like Demi Moore and he was like Jean-Paul Belmondo and they like it.
    The next day, when I was thinking how efficient the Paris cops are, it suddenly occurred to me that they came so swiftly from nowhere immediately after I started shouting at the person offering us hotel rooms and also called for the police. I occurred to me that probably the cops were watching us also and wanted to see how I react to my bag being stolen. They may have wanted to make sure that I was not passing any drugs or so. If I had not noticed my bag missing and had I not reacted so strongly and called for police, may be they would have been trailing us too, thinking that we are also part of some suspicious group. They just wanted to make sure. I also realized that plainclothes agents are everywhere in Europe, as in USA too, and are keeping a close watch of everyone.
    A few days later, I got a mail from someone in USA whom I did now know. It was from the sister of the lady cop. She introduced herself to me and told me that her sister had a request from me. She wanted me to write a letter to Paris police department (she gave me the address and fax number too) on this incidence and how her sister handled it and recovered my bag. She said that this letter would help her sister in the Paris police department when they evaluate her. I was very happy to send this letter to Paris police department. I do not know if it helped her. Anyhow, I thank Paris police department for their efficiency. I can understand that even if they had kept an eye on me, they were only doing their job and that too every efficiently. Those days, they were may be keeping an eye on drug trade, but today it is terrorism.Recommend

  • Rizwan
    Mar 22, 2016 - 11:34PM

    Heart felt condolences to the affectees . It’s a totally unjustifiable act of violence. But my question is that did the so called west condemn the same when the Palestinians we bombed and are being terorised since the last 70 years , when Iraq was invaded , when Syrian anti asad rebels were supported , and certain counties that were minding their business were called axis of evil ? Let’s let the west look at itself before casing a stone Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 23, 2016 - 3:08AM

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Belgian folks who will handle this evil act with firmness and dignity. Humanity will prevail in Europe and evil will be defeated as the European stand together as One People..

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Zahid
    Mar 23, 2016 - 3:10AM

    Heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families
    He is so sad news, the world needs peace, we stand with victims and their families and European union countriesRecommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 23, 2016 - 3:23AM

    Shocked to learn about this barbarous attack on ordinary citizens in Belgium.If EU wants to trace the terrorists they should catch breading force which is Saudi Arabia and Turkey.9/11 persons were Saudi nationals. Now Saudi government is helping terrorists in Syria and Iraq whereas Turkey is allowing terrorists to enter in Syria and Iraq. Yemen is under attack for the last over one year. SA wants to impose its brand of Islam every whereas Turkey is working as a tool to get financial aids.and to become a member of EU. May GOD help this world from these barbarians.Recommend

  • Red And angry
    Mar 23, 2016 - 4:36AM

    Perhaps you may have sent LET over?Recommend

  • RB
    Mar 23, 2016 - 6:16AM

    @Hassan:
    For each one of these people there at least 5-6 people behind them providing support. You realize that 0.00001 of 1.6 Billion is just 16000 and we all know that ISIS itself is more than double that number. So let us not delude ourselves that it is some of us or few of us. even if its 0.001 it is a sizable number not forgetting the support infrastructure. It quickly becomes a huge number. We need work and destroy the violent strain among ourselves and to be at peace with others and ourselves.Recommend

  • RB
    Mar 23, 2016 - 6:28AM

    @ZAK:
    The place where Bomb exploded is called Molenbeek metro station (Read about Molenbeek) and Airports and Metro Stations are public areas.. anyone can go there.Recommend

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