Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has declared three days of national mourning after 34 people were killed and hundreds injured in yesterday’s co-ordinated terror attacks in Brussels.
The Zaventem airport was rocked by two explosions shortly after 8am on Tuesday morning, and another followed only an hour later in a packed subway car at the Maelbeek underground train station.
Michel spoke in a news conference calling the attacks “violent and cowardly”.
“I would like to stress that in this tragic and dark moment for our country, I call for calm and solidarity,” he said. “We are facing a difficult time, but we have to all face this unified as one, with solidarity and unity.”
He added that additional security measures had been taken, including raising the country’s terror level to the highest it’s ever been, bringing in extra military personnel, and tightening border controls and security on public transport.
Belgian anti-terror police have also found a bomb and an Islamic State flag during country-wide raids last night as the manhunt began and focused on a suspect seen running from the airport building after the twin suicide bombings.
Police have issued a warning to the surviving suspect and released CCTV footage showing images of him walking beside two others who appear to have blown themselves up moments later.
“A photograph of three male suspects was taken at Zaventem. Two of them seem to have committed suicide attacks. The third, wearing a light-coloured jacket and a hat, is actively being sought,” federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said in a statement. Suspect names and photos are already being circulated by police and Belgian media.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred just four days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam in Brussels, the prime surviving suspect in November’s attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
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Van Leeuw said it was still “too early to make a direct connection between the attacks in Paris [in November] and today’s attacks”. Islamic State’s claim of responsibility has not yet been formally verified, he said.
As evening fell, a candlelight vigil was held at Place de la Bourse in central Brussels.
Here’s how media outlets in Australia and around the world have been covering the attacks:
The Herald Sun this morning reported there was no news of any Australians being injured in the blasts, and that Malcolm Turnbull had discussions with Australia’s national security experts and decided not to raise the terror threat level.
“‘We are in a much stronger position from a security point of view (compared to) Brussels,’ Mr Turnbull said. ‘The reality is, of course, that we have the benefits of geography.'”
Aunty’s coverage is widespread, but this morning ABC News wrote about the solidarity with Belgium that world leaders are showing, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his counterparts in the UK, France and the US — David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Barack Obama, respectively.
“The 28 EU leaders issued a rare joint statement saying they would combat terrorism ‘with all necessary means’ after what they called ‘an attack on our open democratic society’.”
The New Yorker
In true New Yorker fashion, the attacks have been given their own feature piece, painting the picture with literary flourishes and wide background information.
“Inside, amid pools of blood and rubble, there were detached limbs scattered on the floor. The force of the explosions had caused ceiling panels to come off; they covered the dead and filled the hall with dust. Survivors screamed. Many were soaked in blood — some of it their own, some belonging to those around them.”