Passengers fleeing the airport building at Zaventem following blast
(Image via 32.4 cat)
Islamic State have allegedly claimed responsibility for explosions at Zaventem international airport Brussels shortly before 8am and a further blast at Maalbeek metro station soon after which left at least 34 dead and nearly 200 injured.
Islamic State claim via Almaq News
Brussels – Amaq Agency: 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 center of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.
Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station. The attacks resulted in more than 230 dead and wounded.
How the attack unfolded
Passenger cower on the floor of the airport (Image via Guardian)
Belgium media initially put out an unconfirmed report that a “suicide attack” shook the airport building located 7 miles from the city which handles around 23 million passengers a year according to the BBC. Telegraph stated, “Eyewitnesses said the first blast took place at an excess baggage payment order, and the other near to a Starbucks cafe.” The attacks claimed 20 lives on the metro and 14 at the airport. A third device did not go off and was detonated by controlled explosion.
Footage emerged of passengers cowering in shock behind their luggage not knowing if more explosions would follow, others travellers could be seen fleeing in terror. Dazed passengers were guided on to the tarmac by airport staff and were later removed to a nearby crisis centre by a fleet of buses. Brussels is now in lockdown. Flights have been cancelled or diverted to other airports with instructions put out by authorities not to come to the airport. Trains in the vicinity have also been stopped.
Aftermath of explosions at Zaventem (Image via WikiIsrael)
Sky News reported that shots were fired and shouting heard in Arabic (unconfirmed) before a blast near to an American Airlines in the Departure hall. A Kalashnikov weapon was found next to the body of an alleged attacker. Smoke could be seen rising from an airport, photographs taken inside revealed a scene of devastation, broken plate glass windows and the floor covered in ceiling tiles, bodies and blood.
Scene after attack on Zaventem (Image via Ahan Demir)
Person injured at the airport (Ketevan Kardava, AP)
Windows shattered by blast at Zaventem (via Telegraph)
Ceiling tiles cover the floor of Zaventem airport following blast (Image via Jef Versele)
Belgium authorities have now raised the terror level to maximum. The country was already on high alert following the arrest of Saleh Abdeslam and several other suspects in relation to the attacks in Paris (November 2015) which left 130 dead, see following link,
“Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam shot and arrested in Brussels”
Max Abrams tweeted,
Belgian Minister of Interior said Monday: “We know that stopping one cell can… push others into action. We are aware of it in this case.”
Carriage devastated by blast at Maalbeek metro ( Image via @alxdm)
An explosion was also heard later at Maalbeek metro station near to European Union with casualties seen being attended to outside the station. At least 10 people are thought to have died with 55 injured. A Loud muffled thud was reported and the station evacuated see following link,
Evacuation after explosion at Brussels metro (via Evan Lamos)
Evan Lamos, Freelance multimedia communication in Brussels, Belgium who was caught up in the metro attack at Maalbeek near to European Commission tweeted the following ,
On the Metro between Schuman and Maelbeek. We have just been stopped due to an “incident on the line”. Can hear soft thudding in distance.
We felt a blast of air and my ears popped shortly after leaving Schuman station. The Metro stopped immediately.
Can still hear soft thudding in the distance
We are being evacuated from the back of the Metro, between Schuman and Maelbeek.
Smoke in the tunnel as we evacuate.
Just arrived at Schuman station after walking on the tracks.
Gare Centrale now evacuated and locked down after
#Zaventem and metro bombings (Image, Danielle Schwarzer)
Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium tweeted,
I strongly condemn these hateful attacks. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families. We stand united against terrorism.
Jon Williams, Editor/Foreign Editor tweeted the following images,
Belgian federal police spox confirms to
@ABC photo shows possible suspects from #BrusselsAirport attack. (Jon Williams, ABC) An alert has now gone out for the man in the white jacket according to Sky News
(Jon Williams, ABC)
All metro stations are now closed and travel via the Euro Tunnel is suspended. US Embassy Brussels Emergency Security Message stated, “the U.S. Embassy recommends sheltering in place and avoiding all public transportation.” Security at nuclear plants has also increased according to news agency Belga with reports of Tihange nuclear plant being evacuated. Yahoo reported, “in February, investigators probing the Paris attacks found video footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official at the property of a key suspect.”
An additional 225 soldiers are being sent to Brussels which as Rukmini Callimachi, Correspondent for The New York Times, focusing on al-Qaeda and ISIS pointed out,
“has been an ISIS hotbed since 2011/2012. More jihadists per capita have gone to Syria from Belgium than from any other European country.”
Posted by an IS supporter
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted,
PM: I have chaired a meeting of Cobra – we are increasing police presence at ports, airports, Tube stations & international railway stations
PM: The terrorists behind today’s atrocities attack our way of life and they attack us because of who we are. We will never let them win.
The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Brussels.
Mohammad Matter a Gazan living in Berlin posted the following statement on Facebook,
“Excuse me but there are 10 of children getting killed in yemen everyf……day.
Where is the media and the human outrage?
Why is it only when someone dies in Europe everyone Starts speaking up?
Am sorry #Brussels. i swear, i feel bad for what has happened today and we condemn and reject such madness but our lives and the lives of our children should matter and should worth as much as yours.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.