LIVE: IS claims responsibility for Brussels attack that killed at least 26

Multiple blasts hit Brussels today leaving at least 26 people dead and several injured. Two explosions were reported at the airport while one blast was reported at a metro station. Latest updates here.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 23, 2016 9:23 am
Brussels, Brussels blasts, Brussels blasts, Brussels airport blast, Brussels metro blast, Brussels bomb blast, bomb blast Brussels, Belgian airport blast, brussels airport blast, brussels airport explosion, world news Brussels attack: People bring flowers and candles to mourn at Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Bombs exploded at the Brussels airport and one of the city’s metro stations Tuesday, killing and wounding scores of people, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

A series of apparently coordinated explosions ripped through Brussels airport and a city metro station today, killing at least 26 people in the latest attacks to target Europe.

The Islamic State group has issued an updated communique taking credit for the Brussels attacks and threatening other countries taking part in the anti-IS coalition.

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.

Two blasts targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport at around 8:00am (1130 IST), with prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying the assault likely involved at least one suicide bomber.

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

Also Read: I kissed my wife goodbye… hour later, her metro station Maalbeek was hit

brussels

Pierre Meys, spokesman 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 others had died in the underground blast and 55 were wounded.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed that there were no Indians among the casualties.

Indian Embassy’s helpline in Brussels:
+32-26409140
+32-26451850 (PABX) &
+32-476748575 (mobile)

UPDATES: BRUSSELS AIRPORT BLAST

* The Islamic State group has issued an updated communique taking credit for the Brussels attacks and threatening other countries taking part in the anti-IS coalition.

* Spokeswoman Benilda Babylon identified the woman as 37-year-old Adelma Tapia Ruiz.

* Peru’s Foreign Ministry says a Peruvian woman was killed in the bombings at the Brussels airport.

* Third bomb deactivated at Brussels airport.

* Islamic State group claims responsibility for Brussels attacks.

* UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls Brussels attacks ‘despicable

* Belgium calls three days of national mourning after attacks, says official.

* French cartoonist Plantu pays tribute to Belgium

* Obama: US will do “whatever is necessary” to bring Belgium attackers to justice.

* Speaking to local television, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said: “We fear that people are still at large” following the attacks on Brussels airport and a busy metro station.

Federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw earlier said the authorities “were doing everything possible to track down the attackers and to see if there are others who may have fled”.

* Belgian authorities urged the media to refrain from reporting on the probe into triple bomb attacks in Brussels today that killed at least 26 after some said raids were under way in the city.

“The federal prosecutor notes that certain journalists are reporting information about the investigation under way,” a statement said.

“The federal prosecutor urges the press to immediately refrain from conveying information relative to the investigation so as not to harm the inquiry,” it said.

* Belgian police have found a Kalashnikov assault rifle next to dead attacker at Brussels airport, the Belgian public broadcaster VRT said on Tuesday.

* Syria said the attacks in Brussels were the “inevitable result of wrong policies and a tolerance for terrorism”, and called for an international effort to confront the phenomenon.

A foreign ministry source, quoted by state news agency SANA, also said the attacks were the consequence of some countries “describing terrorist groups as moderate”.

* Royal Belgian Palace has also been evacuated, CNN reports

* Brussels university VUB urged everyone at its Etterbeek campus in the southeast of the city to go indoors immediately and stay inside after twin attacks rocked Brussels on Tuesday, leaving at least 26 people dead, Reuters reported.

“Security counsel strongly urges everyone at campus Etterbeek to immediately move indoors and stay there,” VUB said on Twitter.Toon Vanagt, a Twitter user reportedly inside the university tweeted, “police just ordered me to stay inside due to imminent bomb threat near VUB campus.”

 

* US State Dept has said that Secretary of State John Kerry has been briefed on the Belgium blasts, and they are working to determine status of all US citizens in Brussels.

* Europe in complete lockdown

Europe froze air and rail links to Brussels as the authorities tightened security in alarm over a series of deadly bomb blasts that ripped through the Belgian capital’s airport and a city-centre metro station.

Belgium locked down the capital, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, and imposed its highest level of security alert.

* Timeline of the attacks

* Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says ‘This is a dark moment for our nation. We need calm and solidarity.

In his first reaction, Michel said: ‘What we fear has happened, we were hit by blind attacks’

“Brussels was hit today by two “blind, violent and cowardly” attacks on its airport and metro system which left many dead and wounded.

“Two attacks took place this morning in Zaventam airport and Maalbeek metro station, blind, violent, cowardly attacks,” Charles Michel announced on national television.

“There are many dead and many wounded, some of them seriously,” he said, with the death toll so far put at 21.

Photos: Multiple blasts in Brussels: City in lockdown, 21 dead 

* Facebook has activated its safety check service

brussels-facebook

* France has reinforced security at airports, train stations, metros. The border with Belgium has been shut

* European Council President Donald Tusk in a statement has said that he is “appalled by the bombings this morning at Zavantem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others.”

“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence,” he said in the statement.

 

 

* Jet Airway crew injured in suicide attack, tweets Sushma

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted this afternoon saying she was in touch with the Indian embassy in Belgium and no Indians were among those dead.

* Following are the Jet Airway flights that have been cancelled

March 23: Flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Brussels
March 22: Flights from Newark and Toronto to Brussels
March 22: Flights from Brussels to Newark, Toronto, Mumbai & Delhi

All guests with confirmed tickets to and from Brussels till March 26 will be allowed full refund of tickets


* All flights from Mumbai to Brussels have been cancelled, the Mumbai airport has confirmed

* Belgian Public Broadcaster VRT says Brussels Airport bomb was a suicide attack

* Stay where you are: Contact 1771

* Video from inside the airport

[facebook url="http://www.facebook.com/jef.versele/videos/10208020379759864/" width="100%" height="460px" ]

* One bomb was reportedly found undetonated, and Belgian bomb technicians are on site.

ALSO READ: Brussels explosions: How world leaders reacted

* Authorities tell everyone in Brussels to remain where they are after explosions at airport, subway station – Associated Press reports. Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level.

* David Cameron has called for an emergency Cabinet meeting

 

 

Brussels blasts, Brussels blasts, Brussels airport blast, Brussels metro blast, Brussels bomb blast, bomb blast Brussels, Belgian airport blast, brussels airport blast, brussels airport explosion, world news Belgium blast: All metro stations have been shut following the attack.

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* Belgium’s Transport Authority says all Metro stations in Brussels closing

* MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said no Indians are among the casualties. “Have spoken to our Ambassador. No report of any Indian casualty, says MEA on explosions at Brussels airport,” Swarup said.

* Belgian fire officials have told local media that several people have been killed in the airport blast. There has been no official communication yet.

 

WATCH VIDEO: BRUSSELS AIRPORT BLAST

 

Brussels blasts, Brussels blasts, Brussels airport blast, Brussels metro blast, Brussels bomb blast, bomb blast Brussels, Belgian airport blast, brussels airport blast, brussels airport explosion, world news

Belgian media said rail traffic to the airport was suspended.

The blasts occurred four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Belgian police had been on alert for any reprisal action.

Social media showed pictures of smoke rising from the departure hall where windows had been shattered by the blasts. Passengers were seen running away down a slipway.

Sky News television’s Alex Rossi, at the scene, said he heard two “very, very loud explosions”.

“I could feel the building move. There was also dust and smoke as well…I went towards where the explosion came from and there were people coming out looking very dazed and shocked.”

“The thinking here is that it is some kind of terrorist attack – that hasn’t been verified by any of the authorities here at the airport.”

Brussels airport said it had cancelled all flights and the complex had been evacuated.

Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect for November’s Paris attacks on a stadium, cafes and a concert hall, was captured by Belgian police after a shootout on Friday.

Belgium’s Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, said on Monday the country was on high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Abdeslam.

“We know that stopping one cell can … push others into action. We are aware of it in this case,” he told public radio.

French investigator Francois Molins told a news conference in Paris on Saturday that Abdeslam, a French citizen born and raised in Brussels, admitted to investigators he had wanted to blow himself up along with others at the Stade de France on the night of the attack claimed by Islamic State; but he later backed out.

On Monday, Belgian authorities said they were focusing a new search on a man known to have traveled with key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was captured last week in Brussels.

Federal prosecutors appealed to the public for information about 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, who allegedly traveled to Hungary with Abdeslam before the Nov. 13 carnage, and has been traced to safe houses under a false name.

Laachraoui was checked by guards at the Austria-Hungary border on Sept. 9 while driving in a Mercedes with Abdeslam and one other person, Belgium’s federal prosecutors said in a statement.

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Laachraoui, whose nationality wasn’t disclosed, had traveled to Syria in February 2013, prosecutors said. It wasn’t clear when he returned to Europe.

Using a false identity, Laachraoui also rented a house under the name of Soufiane Kayal in the Belgian town of Auvelais that was allegedly used as a safe house, where prosecutors said traces of his DNA were found. The house was searched Nov. 26.

Laachraoui is “someone who must explain himself,” Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said, stressing that “clues” don’t amount to proof.

Investigators have struggled with the complexity of the Paris attacks case.

“We are far from putting the puzzle together,” Van Leeuw said. He stressed that the public should come forward with information they may have.

Investigators don’t yet know the “exact path” taken by Abdeslam, who had crisscrossed Europe ahead of the Paris bloodbath and then fled the scene, a Belgian federal prosecutor said Monday.

 

Abdeslam, suspected as a logistician in the attacks that killed 130 people, was arrested Friday after a four-month manhunt in the same neighborhood in Brussels where he grew up.

Van Leeuw told reporters at a news conference in Brussels that investigators hope to find out the details of Abdeslam’s actions between the Nov. 13 attacks and his arrest, “if he decides to tell us.”

Abdeslam, 26, a French citizen who grew up in Brussels’ heavily immigrant Molenbeek neighborhood, slipped through police fingers on multiple occasions, including the day after the attacks. He was interviewed three times Saturday, the day after his capture — once by prosecutors and twice by an investigating judge — and “wasn’t in great shape” because he had been shot in the leg by police during his capture, Van Leeuw said.

In addition to the Paris attacks investigation, Belgian anti-terrorism prosecutors have worked non-stop on hundreds of other cases — 325 cases last year and nearly 60 new cases so far this year, Van Leeuw said.

His French counterpart, Francois Molins, who was also at the news conference, said his team has 244 anti-terror cases in progress concerning 772 individuals either charged or sought.

“(It’s clear) we have a general threat,” Van Leeuw said.

Abdeslam has a court hearing on Wednesday. France has requested his extradition but Abdeslam’s lawyer says his client will fight the request.