Blasts at Brussels airport, subway reignite terror fears

A series of deadly explosions rocked Belgium’s capital Tuesday, targeting the main airport of Zaventem and the city’s metro system.

The Belgian ministry of health said the airport bombing had killed 11 people and left 81 injured..

The Brussels transport authority said 15 had been killed in the metro bombing, while 10 were severely injured and 45 injured.

“What we feared has happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference. He said terrorists had committed murder in Zaventem as well as at the Maelbeek metro station. He labelled it a cowardly attack and said it was a black day for Belgium.

Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders said there was no information to suggest the attack was linked to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in last year’s Paris attacks, in Brussels. Responsibility has not yet been claimed for the attack, he said.

The airport explosions, a suicide attack, hit the main departure hall, according to VRT. Trains to the airport had been suspended, it said, and the airport was evacuated and all flights suspended.

Following a blast at the metro station of Maelbeek, close to the European Union institutions in central Brussels, the city’s public transport authority said all metro stations had been closed while the crisis center said all public transport in the city had been halted. It tweeted: “Stay where you are.”

Eye witness Charlotte Van Driessche who was on the metro behind the one under attack told public broadcaster VRT: “We heard a loud bang…there was chaos immediately as everyone suspected the attack was linked to the blast in Zaventem. …There was a huge amount of panic. ..There was a terrible smell, a real smell of burning.”



Photos posted on Twitter show significant damage to the airport. VRT said at least one of the explosions happened near the check-in desks for American Airlines. American Airlines told CNBC in an e-mailed statement all of its employees and contractors were accounted for with no reported injuries.

Belgian news agency Belga, cited by Reuters, said shots were fired and Arabic was shouted before the two explosions.

Aftermath of explosion at the main airport of Zaventem in Brussels, Belgium.

Jef Versele
Aftermath of explosion at the main airport of Zaventem in Brussels, Belgium.

European stocks traded lower following the bombings and gold rallied.

Belgium has been on high terror alert since the Paris attacks on November 13. The blasts come four days after the capture of Abdeslam.

REUTERS | Francois Lenoir

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told CNBC that the attacks were “tragic events” but added that Europe could only “reduce” the threat of terrorism.

“I do believe that our strategy should be very different than the one it is. Much less military approach than a political approach, trying to find solutions in the Middle East and we are far from doing that,” he said.

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