20 people were killed in a metro train and 14 perished at the airport. These events have triggered security alerts across Europe and the United States. – Brussels Under Seige Explosions Nuclear Facility Evacuated
Brussels Under Seige Explosions Nuclear Facility Evacuated
Brussels, the Belgian capital city, is under siege today as at least 34 people have been killed in attacks at Brussels airport and on a rush-hour commuter train. 20 people have been killed in the metro train and 14 at the airport. These events have triggered security alerts across Europe and the United States. Significant cross-border traffic in/out of Belgium has been halted.
Belgium’s Tihange nuclear power plant has also just been evacuated according to public broadcaster VTM said without giving further details.
At least one witness is reported to have heard shouts in Arabic along with gun shots shortly before two blasts struck the jam-packed airport departure lounge at Brussels airport. It is speculated that one of the explosions was triggered by a suicide bomber.
These two blasts come four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Belgian police and combat troops have been on alert for some sort of reprisal in recent days. The attacks took place in crowded areas where people and bags are not searched.
All public transport in Brussels has been shut down. Belgian officials have appealed to citizens not to use overloaded telephone networks. Extra troops have been into the Brussels. The Belgian Crisis Centre, with clear concerns of a further incident, appealed to the population:
“Stay where you are …”
Police had found a Kalashnikov assault rifle next to the body of one attacker at the airport. Such weapons are a trademark of Islamic State-inspired attacks in Europe, notably in Belgium and France, including on Nov. 13 in Paris. An unused explosive belt was also found in the area, according to VTM. Brussels police are continuing to search the airport for any further bombs or attackers. Police are searching various houses in the Brussels area.
According to Reuters, Alphonse Youla, 40, who works at the airport, heard a man shouting out in Arabic before the first explosion:
“Then the glass ceiling of the airport collapsed. I helped carry out five people dead, their legs destroyed.”
A witness said the blasts occurred at a check-in desk.
Photos showed devastation in the departure area with ceiling tiles and glass scattered everywhere. Many prospective passengers left the terminal with blood spattered over their clothes. Smoke rose from the building easily visible on the exterior. Many of the dead and wounded at the airport were badly injured in the legs, one airport worker told Reuters, suggesting at least one bomb in a bag on the floor.
Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands, all wary of spillover from conflict in Syria, were among states announcing extra security measures.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel offered this statement:
“What we feared has come to pass. Our country has been struck by attacks which are blind, violent and cowardly.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released the following statement on the Brussels attacks Tuesday morning:
“Terrorists have once again struck at the heart of Europe, but their campaign of hate and fear will not succeed. The people of Brussels, of Europe, and of the world will not be intimidated by these vicious killers. Today Americans stand in solidarity with our European allies. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium. These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life, but they will never succeed. Today’s attacks will only strengthen our resolve to stand together as allies and defeat terrorism and radical jihadism around the world.”
The United States Embassy in Belgium has provided written instructions for US Citizens in the country:
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Report of Explosions at Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro – March 22, 2016
Preliminary reports indicate one or more explosive devices have gone off at Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek metro. The U.S. Embassy recommends sheltering in place and avoiding all public transportation. We will update with further information when available.
The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that Belgium is at a threat rating of Level 4, or “serious and imminent attack.” Such events can take place with little or no notice; therefore U.S. citizens are urged to:
• Be aware of local events,
• Follow local authority instructions
• Monitor local media further developments and,
• Take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.