Terror attacks in Brussels: "A black day"

Attack in Brussels: what happened in Brussels today ?
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Attack in Brussels: what happened in Brussels today ? - © DIRK WAEM - BELGA

Two blasts hit Brussels Airport (Zaventem) this Tuesday morning, and another one struck the Maelbeek metro station an hour later, in the European district.

According to our informations, 20 people died at the Maelbeek metro station, 130 injured and 10 died at the airport, 130 others are injured too.

Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level (Level 4).

Two explosions occurred in the departure hall of the airport around 8 AM. Belgian government sources speak of a terrorist attack. Ahead of the explosions a person shouted out in Arabic. At the airport, weapons were also found at the scene.

All public transport in Brussels has been shut down, including the three main train stations, Midi, Central and Nord. Eurostar and Thalys high speed train traffic has been suspended. STIB, the local transport company has closed all Brussels metro stations. The entire rue de la Loi has been cleared. Explosions were initially also reported from the Arts-Loi metro station and the Schuman station at the heart of the European district, but these proved to be false alerts.

"A black day"

The attacks occurred four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was arrested in the Brussels district of Molenbeek.

Prime Minister Charles Michel called the latest attacks "blind, violent and cowardly", adding: "This is a day of tragedy, a black day... I would like to call on everyone to stay calm and show solidarity".

President Obama

"Potus" spoke today by phone with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to offer his condolences on behalf of the American people following today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels. The American President reaffirmed the steadfast support of the United States to Belgium, and offered any assistance necessary in investigating these attacks and bringing those responsible to justice. The President reiterated that the United States stands together with the people of Belgium, as well as NATO and the European Union, and once again pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States in our shared commitment to defeat the scourge of terrorism.

EU leaders have released a statement

"The European Union mourns the victims of today's terrorist attacks in Brussels. It was an attack on our open democratic society. Our common European institutions are hosted in Brussels, thanks to the generosity of the government of Belgium and the Belgian people. The European Union and its member states stand firm with Belgium in solidarity and are determined to face this threat together with all necessary means.This latest attack only strengthens our resolve to defend the European values and tolerance from the attacks of the intolerant. We will be united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism".

Meeting of the Regional Security Council 

A meeting of the Regional Security Council was already planned this morning in the context of the Regional Plan for Security and Prevention, and notably the fight against radicalism. Considering this morning event, this meeting has been postponed this afternoon and enlarged to all the District Mayors (Bourgmestres) as well as the Minister of Mobility and the Secretary of State in charge of Emergency Medical Response.

Rudi Vervoort, Minister President of Brussels Capital Region says : "There will be no lockdown of Brussels this time".

Regarding the subway (metro) we work with federal authorities (regarding the security capacity) to partially reopen the network as soon as possible, especially the lines 2 and/or 6;

- Regarding the surface transportation network, the night shift (Noctis) as well as the tramway will be reopened as soon as possible, and in any case this Tuesday;

- Regarding the schools, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the Flemish Community had been informed since the beginning of the situation. It is important to underline that there is no specific threat against schools according to the threat evaluation. However, excursions have been prohibited during the day and the exit of the schools will be organized. The objective is of course to maintain a normal life as soon as this Wednesday, march 23.

- Regarding high concentrated venues around cultural or sport events, as well as touristic sites, only today’s event will be cancelled.

- Regarding public malls and public markets on the regional territory, security measures are taken both by their managers and the authorities, in order for life to get back to normal as soon as this Wednesday morning.

- Regional and Communal public administration will be open as soon as this Wednesday morning.

"The time is now for grief. It is first of all dedicated to all the victims and their families. We send them our thoughts. We also want to say our pride to see the solidarity movement by the citizen of Brussels : This is the true face of Brussels".

Update 5 PM (6GMT)

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks this Tuesday in a statement issued via its news agency.

Public transportation is restarting. Train stations are open again, but there is increased security by Securail, the police and the army.

Air traffic at Brussel Airport will be closed at least untill tomorrow 12 AM.

Terror level 4 is still on. "We ask everybody to stay vigilant".

King Philippe of Belgium will speak tonight on TV, at 19.00 CET.

A CCTV image of three men said to be suspected of being behind the airport attacks has emerged.

Update 7 PM (8GMT)

Mobile networks operate normally again. BIPT reminds to communicate as far as possible by using SMS.

There are long waiting queus at the railway stations in Brussels . We advice to postpone your depart if possible

Only Brussels metro lines 2 and 6 are active. The rest of the metro is closed.

"Today our country is in mourning. Broken lives are our sufferings to all", the King said on television.

Update 8 PM (9GMT)

Brussels Airlines has cancelled all flights to and from Brussels Airport today, March 22nd and tomorrow, Wednesday, March 23rd. Passengers who booked via brusselsairlines.com can : Ask for a refund of their ticket via https://www.brusselsairlines.com/en-be/contact-us/cancel-refund/default.aspx. Rebook their ticket for a new date of travel before 30 June 2016 via our Service Center at +32 2 723 23 62 (+1 866 308 2230 from the US).

 

 

 

If you need information (in Belgium) : call 1771 (outside the country) : +3278151771 - Try contacting people through social media first.

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