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Charles Michel condemns ‘blind, violent and cowardly’ attacks in Brussels

March 22, 2016
Islamic State claims responsibility for suicide attack at airport and another explosion on metro train at Maelbeek. Three days of national mourning declared. Public transport starting to resume
  • 14 dead and 92 injured in double explosion at Brussels airport
  • ‘About 20’ dead and 106 injured in blast on metro train at Maelbeek station
  • Highest terror alert, level 4, is reinstated
  • Rail services running again in Brussels, night buses and tram 93 running tonight
  • Advice to stay indoors has now been lifted

About 30 people have been killed and 200 injured in explosions at Brussels airport and on a city subway train, according to the latest figures published by Belgian media.

14 people were killed in two successive blasts in the departure hall of the airport at approximately 8.00am this morning. One of the explosions was confirmed as a suicide attack.

An hour later, at 9.11am, an explosion on a subway train at Maelbeek metro station, in the European Union district of Brussels, killed “about 20” people and injured 106 others, the city’s mayor Yvan Mayeur told a press conference, although this figure has not been confirmed.

Of those injured, 17 are in a critical condition, 23 have serious injuries and another 66 have minor injuries, Mayeur added.

“Brussels has been hit by an unprecedented killing spree,” Mayeur told reporters. He added: “Hatred and fanaticism have struck the heart of Brussels. It is an attack on our values.”

Mayeur said there was “a huge job ahead of us to rebuild Brussels an open and cosmopolitan city”.

Belgium’s prime minister Charles Michel has urged Belgians to “be calm and show solidarity” following this morning’s “blind, violent and cowardly” explosions in Brussels, at Zaventem airport and on the Brussels metro, in which he confirmed there were “numerous deaths and numerous people injured – some seriously”.

At a press conference in Brussels, Michel said extra military reinforcements would be on the streets and border controls toughened.

“The first urgency for us is to treat the victims, evacuating the people to different hospitals,” Michel said. “This is a dark tragedy black for our country. More than an ever I ask all of you to be calm and show solidarity. We are faced with a difficult test and we must be united. We will continue to follow the situation minute by minute with the various security services.”

Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was likely that one of the two explosions at Brussels airport was a suicide bomber. The airport will remain closed on Wednesday.

The terror threat level in Belgium has been raised to the maximum, level 4. An emergency number is in place for anyone seeking information about family or friends: 1771. Social networking site Facebook has activated its “Safety Check” feature, which allows users to easily tell their friends that their are safe.

Belgium’s Federal Crisis Centre has told Brussels residents that they no longer have to remain inside, but should “remain vigilant” as the maximum level 4 terror alert is in place across the country.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the crisis centre said the level 4 alert – meaning a real and imminent threat – would remain in place “for as long as deemed necessary”.

“Citizens are no longer requested to stay inside,” the group said in a statement. “Schools can get back to the normal situation. Citizens should remain vigilant.”

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels.

A statement published by the A’maq news agency, which is linked to the extremist group, said: “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.”

The statement added: “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.”

Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon has declared three days of national mourning following Tuesday’s attacks.

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