“We are at war,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday, speaking after a crisis meeting called by President Francois Hollande. Europe is under attack, with three deadly explosions, killing at least 26 people and wounding 130 more, ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday, and raised the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe, reported CNN.com on Tuesday. This was not just an attack on the nation of Belgium, but all of Europe. “We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a press conference. The French government condemned the attacks in the strongest term, without ambiguity. As a result of the attacks, Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting the situation is serious for another imminent attack. “What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
French President Hollande said at a press conference, “France and Belgium are linked through horror. Terrorism has struck Belgium and the whole of Europe is targeted. We need to take the full measure of the threat. The fight against terror will be long.” Government officials from across Europe joined the French, speaking out in condemnation in support of Belgium. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, has called for solidarity with Belgium following the Brussels attacks that left scores dead. Mr. Altmaier tweeted in French on Tuesday: “Terrorists will never win.” He added: “Our European values much stronger than hate, violence, terror!”
The European Union’s top official says he’s appalled by the attacks on Brussels’ main airport and a metro near the EU’s institutions and has offered Europe’s support. EU Council President Donald Tusk says Tuesday “these attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.” He says the EU “will fulfill its role to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing.”
Airports and subways across Europe have tightened security. Brussels is on lockdown and airports in London, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, and many others places in Europe, also beefed up security. According to NPR, here is what happened at one of the blast sites:
A suicide attacker struck around 8 a.m. local time, according to a federal prosecutor. The explosions hit near the departure gates, collapsing ceiling panels and shattering glass windows. The blasts sent smoke billowing from the airport and set off a panic as people ran from the airport with whatever they could carry.
The facility has now been evacuated and closed, with emergency crews looking after the wounded and security personnel gathering any evidence that might provide details about those responsible.
The attack began after a burst of gunfire and yelling in Arabic, according to Belgian media outlets.
In addition, around 9:11 a.m. local time, according to NPR, an “explosion on a metro train in or near the Maelbeek station caused chaos close to the European Union headquarters in the city’s center. The station is about 7 miles from the airport.”
Jef Versele, from the Belgian city of Ghent, shared his photos on his Facebook page. Versele told CNN.com, that he was “Making his way to check-in for a flight to Rome at Brussels Airport Tuesday morning when he heard a loud noise emanating from several floors below him. Versele added, “At first I was not aware that it was a bomb. I had the idea that an accident had happened in a food court or something like that.”
He said that the explosion set off a panic, with people screaming and running through the terminal, before it was followed by a second explosion, “which was in my eyes much more powerful than the first one.”
The attack comes four days after Belgian and French police arrested Salah Abdeslam, a central suspect in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Authorities are still looking for his accomplices in that attack — including one man, Laachroui Najim, whose true identity was only recently revealed.
The U.S. Embassy in Brussels is urging American citizens to shelter in place.