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Around 35 killed in Brussels attacks claimed by IS

A police officer stands guard near a security perimeter set in the Rue de la Loi near the Maalbeek subway station, in Brussels, on March 22, 2016, after an explosion killed around 10 people, according to spokesman of Brussels' fire brigade  A string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people, according to media reports, as Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level. / AFP / Belga / HATIM KAGHAT / Belgium OUT

A police officer stands guard near a security perimeter set in the Rue de la Loi near the Maalbeek subway station, in Brussels, on March 22, 2016, after an explosion killed around 10 people, according to spokesman of Brussels’ fire brigade<br />A string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people, according to media reports, as Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level. / AFP / Belga / HATIM KAGHAT / Belgium OUT

A series of explosions claimed by the Islamic State group ripped through Brussels airport and a metro train Tuesday, killing around 35 people in the latest attacks to bring bloody carnage to the heart of Europe.

Two huge blasts, at least one of which prosecutors said was likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the check-in hall at Zaventem Airport, strewing the scene with blood and mangled bodies and sending hundreds of terrified travellers fleeing in terror.

The fact that extremists were able to hit high-profile targets in Brussels, Europe’s symbolic capital, just months after Islamic State (IS) group militants killed 130 people in Paris, will raise fresh questions about the continent’s ability to cope with the terror threat.

More than 200 people were wounded in Tuesday’s bloodshed, which came just four days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam — the prime suspect in the Paris attacks — after four months on the run.

Belgian authorities had been on alert after Abdeslam, Europe’s most wanted man, told investigators he had been planning an attack on Brussels.

An online news agency affiliated with IS said the group was behind the attacks.

“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 centre of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” the Aamaq news agency said.

Hundreds of flights and trains were cancelled as security across Europe was tightened after the bombings, which Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel branded “blind, violent and cowardly”.

“This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” Michel said. His spokesman announced three days of national mourning.

– Three suspects wanted –
Shortly after the airport blasts hit at around 8:00am (0700 GMT), a third explosion rocked Maalbeek metro station, in the heart of the city’s EU quarter, as rush-hour commuters were making their way to work.

There are fears more suspects could still be at large in Brussels, home to the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders warned.

Belgian authorities published surveillance camera images showing three male suspects pushing trollies with suitcases past the check-in area. Two have dark hair and one is wearing a hat.

Pierre Meys, spokesman for the Brussels fire brigade, told AFP at least 14 people had been killed at the airport, while Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said “around 20” died in the underground blast.

Witnesses described horrific scenes at the airport, with victims lying in pools of blood, their limbs blown off. There were chaotic scenes as passengers fled in panic, and plumes of dark smoke could be seen rising from holes punched through the roof of the building by the blasts.

“A man shouted a few words in Arabic and then I heard a huge blast,” airport baggage security officer Alphonse Lyoura told AFP, his hands bloodied.

“A lot of people lost limbs. One man had lost both legs and there was a policeman with a totally mangled leg.”

An army team later blew up a suspect package at the shuttered airport, with media reporting police had found an unexploded suicide vest.

Authorities later said a third bomb had failed to explode at the airport.

At Maalbeek station, paramedics tended to commuters with bloodied faces as the city’s normally peaceful streets filled with the wailing of sirens.

Airports across Europe swiftly announced they were boosting security, while across the Atlantic, New York and Washington ordered security personnel to crowded areas and train stations.

– ‘Whole of Europe hit’ –
Leaders across Europe reacted with outrage to the attack on the EU’s institutional capital, urging closer counter-terror cooperation on a continent that has been on high alert for months.

“The whole of Europe has been hit,” said French President Francois Hollande, whose country is still reeling from November’s Paris attacks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned of the “very real” terrorist threat faced by countries across Europe, declaring: “We will never left these terrorists win.”

US President Barack Obama said Washington stood with Belgium in the face of the “outrageous” attacks.

“We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible, and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite,” Obama said.

Security was also beefed up at Belgium’s nuclear plants and at EU buildings in the French city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon announced that Belgium’s terror threat had been raised to its highest level.

Messages of solidarity poured out on social media, with thousands of people sharing images of beloved Belgian cartoon character Tintin in tears.

It has been a week of drama and bloodshed in Brussels. Last Tuesday saw a shootout in the city’s south that saw a Kalashnikov-wielding man killed and four police officers wounded.

Investigators believe key Paris suspect Abdeslam slipped out of the apartment as the gun battle broke out. He was arrested three days later in Brussels’ gritty Molenbeek district — just around the corner from his family home.

Foreign Minister Reynders said at the weekend that Abdeslam — believed to have played a key logistical role in the Paris carnage — had told investigators he was planning some sort of new attack.

Shiraz Maher, a radicalisation expert at Kings College London, said it was “very likely that this attack will have been planned and prepared well in advance of last week’s arrest of Salah Abdeslam”.

The bombings came at a time when the brutal jihadist group is under pressure and losing territory in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.



4 Comments
  • BENBELLA

    Europe would never learn ,The damage has been done, time to recall all Muslim born Citizen, and immigrant also refugees to questions, revoke their Citizenship, as soon as the War is OVER ship them back to where they come from, they would never like your culture or your educational system, No need to have them in your society , Some Arabs are Animals, and hide under Muslim Religion , Please think twice why Saudi, and the other Rich Arabs don’t take Refugees ? you can see why , they are TROUBLE, born as a Citizen or comes as a Refugees , they have mission to Kill the WESTENER , US refused to take none . , Future problems in all refugees Arabs in your Countries ? Send them back to Assad , they understand each others .

  • Defender

    Please Guidian try n vet ur articles before publishing them. Too much typos and blunder. They occur in almost all ur piblications. Or do you people need English Teacher….Please show more professionalism.

  • Defender

    Please Guardian show more professionalism by veting ur publications. Too much typos n blunder…It is not good for ur coporate image.

  • Charles Anderson

    This Islamist ideology, which seeks to conquer the world and implement sharia must be crushed and Donald Trumps call to “ban all Muslims” until we know what is going on should me implemented immediately

    An Islamic State where Sharia is the basis of governance; usually used in reference to past Islamic empires in the Middle East.
    gives people who are drawn to acts of violence an outlet for their grievances and an opportunity to justify crimes on an international scale.
    Close all European borders, raid all mosques, close all madrassas and start mass deportation on all Muslims, we are at war and we need to fight back and eliminate the filthy scum !

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