25 March 2019
People display a solidarity banner in Brussels following Tuesday’s bomb attacks in the city. Photo: Reuters
People display a solidarity banner in Brussels following Tuesday’s bomb attacks in the city. Photo: Reuters

Brussels mourns victims of airport and metro terror attacks

Belgium has called for three days of national mourning after terror attacks in Brussels Tuesday that left at least 30 people dead and more than 200 injured. 

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for suicide bombings at Zaventem airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital, triggering security alerts across Europe.

Police are hunting for a suspect who fled the air terminal after he was caught on CCTV pushing a laden luggage trolley at the airport alongside two others who are believed to have blown themselves up in the terminal, Reuters reported.

The airport blasts killed at least 10 people.

Officials said about 20 died in the train bombing that took place close to EU institutions. 

The coordinated attacks came four days after Brussels police captured Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect in the Paris terror attacks last November in which 130 people were killed.

As the city began to emerge from a day of lockdown, a major police search operation was under way after dark in the northern borough of Schaerbeek. 

Police are said to have gone to the area after a taxi driver reported driving three people to the airport and became suspicious when they did not let him touch their baggage.

“A photograph of three male suspects was taken at Zaventem. Two of them seem to have committed suicide attacks. The third, wearing a light-colored jacket and a hat, is actively being sought,” a Belgian federal prosecutor told a news conference.

A government official said the third suspect had been seen running away from the airport building. Police later found and detonated a third explosive device at the airport.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the terror attacks were a “black moment” for his country.

“What we had feared has come to pass,” he said.

Meanwhile, world leaders, led by US President Barack Obama, issued calls of support and solidarity to Belgium following Tuesday’s incidents.

“We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism,” Obama told a news conference in Cuba.

“We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”

Brussels airport will remain closed on Wednesday but the metro, trains and other transport will open, at least in part.

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