Sun | Oct 21, 2018

At least 31 dead in bombings of Brussels airport, subway

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 12:00 AM
France's President Francois Hollande, center, addresses the medias while Belgium Ambassador to France Vincent Mertens de Wilmars, left, and French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault look on, outside the Belgian embassy, in Paris, yesterday.
Travelers stand in a queue after services were suspended on the Brussels Eurostar train route because of the attacks in Belgium, at St Pancras international railway station in London, yesterday.
People react outside Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium, yesterday.



Bombs exploded yesterday at the Brussels airport and in the city's subway, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The two airport blasts, at least one of them blamed on a suicide bomber, left behind a chaotic scene of splattered blood in the departure lounge as windows were blown out, ceilings collapsed and travellers streamed out of the smoky building.

About an hour later, another bomb exploded on a rush-hour subway train near the European Union headquarters. Terrified passengers had to evacuate through darkened tunnels to safety.

"What we feared has happened," Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel said. "In this time of tragedy, this black moment for our country, I appeal to everyone to remain calm but also to show solidarity."

Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, diverting planes and trains and ordering people to stay where they were for most of the workday. Airports across Europe and in the New York area, tightened security.

"We are at war," French prime minister, Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting in Paris. "We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war."

Added French president Francois Hollande: "Terrorists struck Brussels, but it was Europe that was targeted, and it is all the world which is concerned by this."

European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike.

The arrest Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November 13 attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose.