BRUSSELS/NEW DELHI: Around 35 people were killed and over 200 injured on Tuesday in a series of explosions that ripped through Brussels airport and a metro train, the latest attacks officially claimed by Islamic State to rock Europe.
Two blasts shattered the main hall of Zaventem Airport around 8 am (12.30 IST), with prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying there was probably at least one suicide bomber. A third hit a train at Maalbeek metro station in the heart of the city’s EU quarter, just as commuters were making their way to work during rush hour. Belgian authorities later found a third unexploded bomb at the airport. Meanwhile, an army team blew up a suspect package at the shuttered airport, with reports claiming police had found an unexploded suicide vest.
Pierre Meys, Brussels fire brigade spokesperson, said at least 14 people were killed at the airport, while mayor Yvan Mayeur said “around 20” died in the underground blast. More than 200 people have been wounded, several critically.
During the blasts, the airport terminal had a sizeable number of Indians flying out of Brussels to other destinations. Two cabin crew of Jet Airways were injured in the blasts even as passengers flying with the airline were shifted out of the airport by local authorities as part of a large-scale evacuation process. Jet Airways officials said both the crew, who were receiving medical attention, were in the departure terminal and were about to leave when the explosions occurred.
Security was tightened across Europe and transport links paralysed after the bombings that Belgian PM Charles Michel branded “blind, violent and cowardly”. “This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” he said.
“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,” said the Aamaq news agency.
Afterwards, airport authorities released a surveillance camera image of three suspects. The grainy image shows three men pushing trollies with suitcases past the check-in area. Two have dark hair and one was wearing a hat.
The bloodshed came days after the arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam — prime suspect in the Paris attacks claimed by the IS.
Tuesday’s bomb attack was in retaliation to the recent arrest of top Paris attack suspect Saleh Abdeslam. A look
■ 8 am (local time): Two blasts hit Zaventem international airport outside Brussels
■ Witnesses claim they heard shots in departure hall before someone shouted in Arabic and then two explosions occurred
■ At least 14 people killed, 80 injured
■ 9 am: Third explosion rocks Maalbeek metro station near EU headquarters
■ Kills at least 20 people, leaves over 106 injured
Suspect Package Blown Up
■ Army team blows up suspect package at Brussels airport; police find unexploded suicide vest
Air, Rail Links
■ Airlines cancel hundreds of flights, European railways freeze links with Brussels
■ High-speed train service Thalys, which links France and Belgium, says all its traffic has been stopped
■ Brussels-Zaventem int’l airport shut until 6 am on Wednesday
i.s. flag, bomb found
■ Cops find nail bomb, Islamic State flag during raids at a
Brussels apartment, hours after the attacks
Indian Embassy helpline in Brussels