ISIS claims responsibility for Brussels attacks - as it happened

2016-03-22 15:00

Get the latest information on the aftermath of the terror attacks that hit Brussels.

For those catching up...

- Two bombs hit Brussels Airport's departure hall this morning. At least 14 people have reportedly died in that incident, while more than 90 were reported injured.

- A third bomb went off at Maelbeek metro station near the EU building in the city. At least 20 people have reportedly died in that incident, and 106 reported injured.

- Belgian media have reported that one of the blasts in the airport was a suicide attack. The perpetrator's reportedly shouted in Arabic before the blasts went off.

- Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel has raised the terror threat level to maximum. Military personnel have been deployed to the city.

- All major transit routes, including, bus, train and flights in and out of the city have been suspended.


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Last Updated at 17:04
22 Mar 18:50

22 Mar 18:43

22 Mar 18:43

Florence Muls, a spokesperson for the Brussels Airport, says a third bomb has been neutralised at the airport after two other bombs killed at least 10 people there Tuesday morning.

Muls told The Associated Press the third bomb was dispensed of "with a controlled action" once the chaos of the first explosives had eased somewhat.

Elsewhere in the Belgian capital, anti-bomb squads detonated suspicious objects in at least two locations — the Maelbeek subway station and close to Brussels University a few miles further away. Authorities said those two did not contain explosives.

A US official has told the AP the explosives in Brussels appear sophisticated, and investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics to those used in the Paris attacks last year. - AP

22 Mar 18:34

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the terror attacks in Brussels have underlined the need to pool global efforts for combating terrorism.

Putin spoke in televised remarks as he met with visiting Finnish President President Sauli Niinisto.

Putin began by offering condolences to the families of the victims in Brussels. He added "we have repeatedly discussed the issues related to the fight against terrorism, and it's possible to efficiently combat it only by united efforts".

Some other Russian officials and lawmakers have criticised Western reluctance to cooperate with Moscow on fighting terrorism amid the strain in Russia-West ties over the Ukrainian crisis. - AP

22 Mar 18:25

Russia has beefed up security amid "a heightened terror threat" in the aftermath of blasts that struck the heart of the Belgian capital, officials said Tuesday.

"We have information about a heightened terror threat in Russia, so our special services are reinforced," the deputy head of the senate committee for defence and security, Yevgeny Serebrennikov, told the RIA Novosti news agency. - AFP

22 Mar 18:19

22 Mar 18:13

22 Mar 17:57

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office has made a new plea to the media not to spread any information about the investigation in the wake of the bombing attacks early Tuesday.

Belgian authorities had already made a similar plea during the days following the Nov. 13 Paris attacks when they were certain an attack in Brussels was imminent. It was largely followed by the media.

On Tuesday, the office again asked the media to immediately desist from spreading information from the ongoing investigation. - AP

22 Mar 17:47

22 Mar 17:47

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels, saying its extremists opened fire in the airport and "several of them" detonated suicide belts.

The posting in the group's Amaq news agency said another suicide attacker detonated in the metro.

The posting claimed the attack was in response to Belgium's support of the international coalition arrayed against it. - AP

22 Mar 17:47

People can start moving around Brussels once more after being told to stay in place for hours after bombing attacks Tuesday morning at the airport and on a subway station.

Peter Mertens of the Belgian crisis center says "the threat is still real and serious" of more attacks.

But he says air traffic at Brussels' Zaventem airport "remains closed for the day under any circumstance" but people in the Belgian capital can start walking outside again and train stations are reopening. - AP

22 Mar 17:43

22 Mar 17:43

22 Mar 17:42

22 Mar 17:40

22 Mar 17:39
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks

22 Mar 17:20
Belgian crisis center says people can start moving around again after lockdown since attacks. - AP

22 Mar 17:20

Belgium will hold three days of national mourning in the wake of the deadly attacks in the capital Brussels that killed around 35 people."

All national flags on public buildings will be at half-mast through Thursday," Frederic Cauderlier, spokesman for Belgian premier Charles Michel, told AFP.

22 Mar 17:09

22 Mar 17:08

22 Mar 17:00

22 Mar 16:59

A US official says security officials believe at least one suitcase bomb was detonated at Brussels Airport on Tuesday morning.

The official, who wasn't authorised to speak publicly on the early investigations, confirmed a statement by a Brussels official that there is also concrete evidence of one suicide bombing at the airport Tuesday as well.

US intelligence agencies had been on alert for possible attacks since Friday's arrest in Belgium of accused Paris attacks conspirator Salah Abdeslam. But the official said it was unclear if Tuesday's bombings were already planned and set in motion by his or another existing network, or if they were a direct response to Abdeslam's arrest.

The official said the explosives seen in Brussels on Tuesday appear sophisticated. Investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics as those used in Paris last year. - AP

22 Mar 16:58

Pope Francis has condemned the "blind violence" of the Brussels attacks and has offered prayers for the victims, their families and emergency responders.

Francis' secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram of condolences Tuesday to the archbishop of Brussels, Mons. Jozef De Kesel.

In it, Francis said he "condemns once again the blind violence that breeds so much suffering and implores the gift of peace from God" for all Belgians. - AP

22 Mar 16:46

Deadly attacks Tuesday at the Brussels airport and a metro station in the city are the latest in a string of attacks in Europe in recent years. Here are some of the most recent major ones:

— Nov. 13, 2015: Islamic State-linked extremists attack the Bataclan concert hall and other sites across Paris, killing 130 people. A key suspect in the attack, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, is arrested in Brussels on March 18, 2016.

— Feb. 14, 2015: A gunman kills Danish filmmaker Finn Noergaard and wounds three police officers in Copenhagen. A day later the gunman, Omar El-Hussein, attacks a synagogue, killing a Jewish guard and wounding two police officers before being shot dead.

— Jan. 7, 2015: A gun assault on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo kills 12 people. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claims responsibility for the attack, saying it was in revenge for Charlie Hebdo's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

— May 24, 2014: Four people are killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by an intruder with a Kalashnikov. The accused is a former French fighter linked to the Islamic State group in Syria.

— May 22, 2013: Two al-Qaida-inspired extremists run down British soldier Lee Rigby in a London street, then stab and hack him to death.

— March 2012: A gunman claiming links to al-Qaida kills three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, southern France.

— July 22, 2011: Anti-Muslim extremist Anders Behring Breivik plants a bomb in Oslo then launches a shooting massacre on a youth camp on Norway's Utoya island, killing 77 people, many of them teenagers.

— Nov. 2, 2011: The offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are firebombed after the satirical magazine runs a cover featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. No one is injured.

— March 2, 2011: Islamic extremist Arid Uka shoots dead two U.S. airmen and injures two others at Frankfurt airport after apparently being inspired by a fake internet video purporting to show American atrocities in Afghanistan.

— July 7, 2005: 52 commuters are killed in London when four al Qaida-inspired suicide bombers blow themselves up on three subway trains and a bus.

— March 11, 2004: Bombs on four Madrid commuter trains in the morning rush hour kill 191 people. - AP

22 Mar 16:29

22 Mar 16:20

A Belgian TV station is reporting that at least one of the bombs at the Brussels airport contained nails.

Flemish language broadcaster VTM interviewed Marc Decramer of the Gasthuisberg hospital in Leuven, who says the hospital is treating 11 people with serious injuries, three of them in critical condition.

Decramer says the wounded have fractures and deep cuts caused by flying glass and nails.

Belgian officials say 31 people were killed Tuesday and 187 wounded in two explosions at the Belgium airport and one at a city subway station. - AP

22 Mar 16:19

22 Mar 16:16

22 Mar 16:14

22 Mar 16:00

22 Mar 15:58

Passenger Cedric Vanderswalm says a late train and a full elevator at Brussels airport probably saved his life.

The 20-year-old from the coastal Belgian town of Knokke was at the Brussels airport on Tuesday planning to fly to London for his job as an animator.He says was heading to the airport's departures level but the elevator was full "so I didn't get in.

I waited and I was about to step into the elevator when there was a big explosion." He says people started running, dropping their luggage.

He says "if I had taken the previous elevator, I would have been right in the explosion. My train also had a 5 minute delay, so I was lucky."

The explosion coated the left side of his face with soot and dust. - AP

22 Mar 15:55

22 Mar 15:51
An Israeli minister on Tuesday suggested Europeans had ignored the danger of "Islamic terror cells" and focused on criticising Israel instead, in a statement in response to the Brussels attacks. - AFP

22 Mar 15:47
Authorities in Europe and beyond tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. - AP

22 Mar 15:40

22 Mar 15:37

22 Mar 15:34
Brussels is "a disaster city" where assimilation has failed, US Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said. - AFP

22 Mar 15:33

A minute of silence has been held outside the Spanish parliament and Madrid's town hall at noon in memory of the victims in Brussels

The Spanish government says the attacks Tuesday in Brussels show "the most brutal and inhumane side of those who know only the language of violence and terror."

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo linked the attacks to the Islamic State armed group. He says previous attacks in Paris claimed by IS militants had shown the assailants acting "like well-coordinated and militarily well-structured commandos" instead of lone wolves.

Top Spanish officials were meeting later on the situation but the Interior Ministry said for now Spain is keeping its national security alert at one step below the maximum. - AP

22 Mar 15:26

A South African student living 15 minutes away from where the first explosion rocked Belgium this morning, was not surprised at what was believed to be a terrorist attack.

"The country has been on a terror alert for some time. Seeing a heavy police presence at the train station has become somewhat common. I’ve lived here for eight years and before last year it was never like this.

Ramkumar though said the attacks had not deterred her from going to class at the University of Leuven.

"I will be trying my best to head to class this afternoon. We cannot let them win."

22 Mar 15:01

"Two attacks took place this morning in Zaventam airport and Maelbeek metro station, blind, violent, cowardly attacks," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced on national television.

"There are many dead and many wounded, some of them seriously," he said, with the death toll so far put at 34.

22 Mar 14:57

A Pietermaritzburg man living in Brussels has told News24 of a heightened state of fear with people under lockdown at their offices and homes.

“There is a chopper flying over the city and you can just hear sirens. There are emergency vehicles everywhere and there are a lot fewer people on the streets than normal,” he said.

“I have seen a lot more faces in windows and I think a lot of people have decided to stay at home. I have had a lot of messages from friends who were staying off the streets,” he added.

22 Mar 14:24
A map of the affected areas in Brussels:

22 Mar 14:16

American Airlines said a bomb blast did not occur at its check-in at Brussels' airport, which was rocked by explosions in attacks on the Belgian capital Tuesday.

"At this time there are no reported injuries to our employees. American Airlines check-in operates at row eight of the departure hall, and the explosions did not occur at row eight," the airline said in a statement. - AP

22 Mar 14:12
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump weighed in on the Brussels attack.

22 Mar 14:10
House raids are ongoing throughout Brussels after the blasts at the airport and a metro station, Reuters reports.

22 Mar 14:04

The Eiffel Tower will be lit up Tuesday evening with Belgium's national colours in solidarity with the victims of the Brussels attacks, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced.

The symbol of Paris will be bathed in black, yellow and red light in homage to "the victims, their loved ones and all the people of Belgium," she said in a statement following the attacks that killed at least 26.

"Today Europe is targeted at her heart," Hidalgo said. "Once more it is basic values that are attacked: freedom, humanism, tolerance and unshakeable commitment to democracy."

She expressed her "full solidarity and that of Parisians," the statement said, adding that the mayor spoke to Brussels counterpart Yvan Mayeur to "tell him how much we share their sadness and grief." - AFP

22 Mar 13:58

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks in Brussels, a report claims. The group’s statement was allegedly published by ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency, according to Egyptian media.

This is unconfirmed though.

22 Mar 13:51

Facebook meanwhile has activated its "safety check" system to help people check on friends and loved ones in the aftermath of the attacks in Brussels.

The company says Tuesday the system was put in use within hours of the two explosions at the Brussels airport and a third at a metro station.

It says the system can provide an easy way for people to mark themselves as "safe" after a major disaster or crisis so that people searching for them will know they are unharmed.

22 Mar 13:38

The South African Embassy in Brussels is monitoring developments in the city after an apparent terrorist attack at the Zaventem Airport and at a Maelbeek Metro Station.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said that at this stage, no South African citizens had been reported missing, dead, or injured.

“At this early stage we have had no reports of South African casualties but the embassy is keeping a monitor on the situation as it unfolds and they will report directly to Pretoria,” he said.

22 Mar 13:29

A witness told Russia Today he was close to the airport entrance when "total mayhem" erupted:

“I was around 100 meters from the entrance of the airport when I heard a large blast and saw this screen of dust coming out. People started screaming and running away.

“I talked to one person who said, ‘I saw people lying down on the floor without legs, without other parts of their bodies. This was terrible, I will never forget it.’"

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