Suicide Attacks On Brussels Airport and Subway, Multiple Deaths Confirmed

Andre Walker
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 4:48 AM
Suicide Attacks On Brussels Airport and Subway, Multiple Deaths Confirmed

UPDATE (10:05 AM ET): Tom Wilson from the think tank The Henry Jackson Society warns that terror networks are being established in Europe.

“Today’s attacks, like those in Paris last year, involved coordinated simultaneous attacks. Coming days after Abdeslam’s arrest, they indicate the presence of a well-established terrorist network within Europe with the ability to become operational quickly. In light of the high number of returning fighters, this shows the scale and lethality of exactly the kind of attack most feared by the British government and intelligence services.”

UPDATE (8:55 AM ET): According to Belgian French Radio (RTBF) searches are underway in Brussels for suspects following today's attack. Although properties are being searched judicial sources have told RTBF that street patrols are also actively looking for those involved.

The searches are likely to focus on the notorious Muslim dominated Molenbeek district. This is the area Salah Abdeslam lived for months without being reported to the police despite being a wanted man. He was arrested there last week.

UPDATE (8:31 AM ET): The Belgian Royal Family has now been evacuated from Brussels and authorities are asking the public to urgently donate blood because of the number of seriously injured people. Security services confirmed that both armed police and the military had been patrolling Brussels in the past few days but the bombers attacked areas where they were not searching bags.

The Belgian government had been convinced Islamists would strike back following the arrest of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday. He is suspected of involvement in the Paris terror attack last year.

Donald Trump told Fox News: “I would close up our borders until we figure out what is going on...  We are lax and we are foolish," he said. "Look at Brussels, he continued. "Look at Paris, look at so many cities that were great cities. Paris is almost as bad. Paris is no longer the City of Lights, Paris has a lot of problems. All you have to do is speak to the people who live there where the same thing has happened and they are in fear. The city is in fear. And we have to be smart in the United States." The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) took a similar line. Its defense spokesman, Mike Hookem, issued a statement saying: “This horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security.”

UPDATE (8:14 AM ET): The Belgian health minister has told Reuters news agency that 11 people were killed in the airport bombing and 81 wounded. The overall death toll now stands at 26 but is expected to rise.

UPDATE (7:02 AM ET): French authorities confirm there will be 1600 extra police on the street to ensure terrorists cannot cross the border with Belgium. NYPD say they will deploy extra officers at transport hubs, and David Cameron will hold a meeting of COBRA - the UK government's emergency planning body.

UPDATE (6:50 AM ET): Fatality numbers are fluctuating, but per the Independent, there are currently "around 23 dead and 35 injured."

UPDATE (6:46 AM ET): There has been another explosion in Brussels, the Belga News Agency reported. Local broadcaster RTBF later called it a controlled explosion of a suspect package. These sorts of detonations are not unusual during high alert situations and are normally harmless, but unattended items.

UPDATE (6:09 AM ET): 

UPDATE (5:49 AM ET): If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is: 02-811-4000.

UPDATE (5:45 AM): Belgian authorities are asking the public not to leave their homes as this will impede the work of the emergency services. Obviously, Brussels Airport has been closed for some time.

UPDATE (5:37 AM ET): Statement from the American Embassy in Brussels: "Preliminary reports indicate one or more explosive devices have gone off at Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek metro. The U.S. Embassy recommends sheltering in place and avoiding all public transportation. We will update with further information when available."

UPDATE (5:28 AM ET): 

UPDATE (5:21 AM ET): Other explosive devices have been discovered at the airport, RTBF correspondent Laurent Henrard cited firefighters as saying.

UPDATE (5:20 AM ET):

Brussels Zaventem airport explosions: Smoke seen inside building as people run from blasts https://t.co/wyoAqiDE0j pic.twitter.com/UKx3oyoglV

— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) March 22, 2016

UPDATE (5:14 AM ET): Several outlets are reporting that an explosion also hit the Maelbeek metro station. Multiple deaths have also been reported (see BBC).

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The American Airlines check in desk at Brussels Airport suffered two large explosions this morning, prompting speculation of an Islamic terrorist attack. Two explosions ripped through the departure lounge, close to check in desk four at 8am local time (3am ET) killing 17.

Passengers ran for cover and evacuated the scene, adding photos and videos to social media. One journalist, who was in transit at the airport, said he could feel the whole building move.

Reports also suggest that first there was a shot fired in the departure hall, then something was called out in Arabic, and only afterward, two explosions rocked the facility.

Belgium's Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, said the country was on high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday. He said: "We know that stopping one cell can ... push others into action. We are aware of it in this case."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Details are emerging in this breaking story. Updates will be added as they become available.