ISIS has just claimed responsibility for a series of terror attacks that occurred in Brussels, saying it was the “soldiers of the caliphate” that attacked “the crusader state” of Belgium. This comes just days after Belgian police has arrested Salah Abdeslam, a prime suspect for the terror attacks in Paris that occurred last year and killed around 130. Here is everything Morning News USA knows about the terror attacks in Brussels so far.
The death toll is now at 34. However, that number might still increase. According to Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur, “It is too early to give definite figures, but they will be harsh.” The attacks started in Brussel’s Zaventem International Airport. Witnesses say they heard shots and someone shouting in Arabic. Suddenly, the airport says two explosions occurred at approximately 8:00 in the morning. An immediate evacuation was done as one victim is reported dead.
Following the explosions, flights were immediately cancelled. Moreover, the airport announced that it was suspending its operations until further notice. Meanwhile, passengers who were still in the Piers were evacuated later on. The Brussels airport says it will remain closed on Wednesday as a forensic investigation is now underway. In addition, it remains to be seen if it will be able to reopen on Thursday. According to a report from the AFP, a fire service spokesman put the death toll in the airport to 14 so far. Meanwhile, more than 90 were wounded.
It was later found that the explosions at the Belgium airport were possibly the result of suicide bombings. Moreover, the Brussels governor says that there was a third bomb at the airport, but it failed to detonate. The Belgian police are now looking for a third attacker.
About an hour later, an explosion rocks the Maalbeek metro station, which is located near the EU headquarters. According to Brussels transport operator STIB-MIVB, the blast killed 15 and wounded about 55 others. Following the attacks, the transport operator has decided to reopen Metro line 2, but only with stops at Simonis, Rogier, Madou, Trône, Louise, Midi, Delacroix & Beekkant. Meanwhile, it also announced that it is “preparing a network with extra security” for Wednesday.
Police and soldiers have now been sent to provide extra security to Belgium’s nuclear power plants. According to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium’s threat level has now been raised to four, the highest in the Belgian scale. As of the moment, the U.S. State Department is not aware of any American deaths in the Brussels attacks. Following the terror attacks, Belgian authorities have launched a manhunt throughout the country. A number of witnesses are also being questioned.
As a show of solidarity with Belgium, Paris has lit up its Eiffel Tower with Belgium’s national colors. Meanwhile, the Belgian flag is also on display at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Following the attacks, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel released a statement saying, “We will defend and protect our values and freedom. We are confronted with a barbaric enemy. But we are determined and united.”