Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday have left at least 26 people dead and 130 more injured, according to Belgian media.
It has reinstated the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe.
“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.
Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings.
However, the Brussels Metro Authority reported that 15 died and 55 were wounded in the subway station blast. And Belgian media report at least 11 more people were killed in the two blasts in the Brussels Airport departure hall.
One of the two explosions at the airport is believed to be a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said.
A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.
The subway station blast happened in the Brussels district of Maalbeek, near the European quarter, where much of the European Union is based, according to RTL.
Belgian authorities took security precautions after Tuesday’s attacks, including shutting down all Brussels metro stations and evacuating the city’s airport.
This comes as the terror threat level in Belgium went up four, its highest. That step-up means that army soldiers can be sent onto the streets to meet security needs.
The ramifications were felt outside the Belgian capital as well.
As a precaution measure, Washington’s Metro system announced that it would be increasing K9 sweeps and police patrols as a precaution. President Barack Obama was briefed on the bombings in Cuba, where he is making a historic visit.
Eurostar, a high-speed railway that goes to England and France, noted a number of schedule and other changes, including canceling service between London and Brussels.
NATO, the military alliance that is headquartered in Brussels, increased its own alert level and expressed solidarity with Belgium.
“This is a cowardly attack, an attack on our values and on our open societies,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. “Terrorism will not defeat democracy and take away our freedoms.”
British police have increased their presence at certain locations, including transport hubs like London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, according to Scotland Yard.
France deployed 1,600 more police around the country, according to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
“I express my entire solidarity with the Belgian people,” French President Francois Hollande tweeted. “Through the Brussels attacks, the whole of Europe has been hit.”
The Brussels Airport tweeted that there have been two blasts and said that “the building” is being evacuated. They also said all airport operations have been suspended and asked those nearby to remain calm.
The airport is being evacuated and a disaster plan has been initiated, RTL reported. Passengers have been directed to the airport runways.
The Belgian crisis center tweeted that all public transportation in the city has been closed.
“Stay where you are,” it said.
Kristalina Georgieva, the vice president of the European Commission, said that all the organization’s institutions are at “alert level orange” and that all meetings on its premises and outside have been canceled.
She advised people to stay at home or indoors.
“I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels,” British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted. “We will do everything we can to help.”
The incident comes after Salah Abdeslam, a man who authorities say was involved in the Paris terror attacks last year, was arrested in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek on Friday.
Belgium’s Prime Minister deflected a question about whether there’s any link between Tuesday’s bloodshed and Abdeslam’s capture, saying it is too early to tell.
He said on Tuesday that he had “no information” about who was responsible for the attack, adding that authorities will find that out, but right now their focus is on caring for the victims.