Brussels airport and metro station hit by explosions
Two explosions have hit the Brussels Zaventem airport, killing up to 13 people and injuring dozens, hospital sources told local media.
Shortly after the airport blasts on Tuesday morning, an explosion also struck at a metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital, close to European Union institutions.
The Belgian federal prosecutor told state media that the explosion at the airport was a suicide attack.
Footage from the airport – the country’s largest – showed people running from the terminal building as plumes of smoke rose to the sky.
The powerful blasts caused parts of the ceiling to fall down and windows were shattered.
All metro lines were shut down after the attacks. Some witnesses at the Maelbeek said people with blood on their faces were seen at the scene. There were conflicting reports on casualties, with Belgian media reporting several deaths.
Ian McCafferty, a witness at the station, said the blast happened during busy rush hour traffic.
“People started running when they saw smoke coming,” he said. “The point of these attacks is to make you live in fear but I refuse to.”
The interior ministry raised the country’s terror alert to the highest level after the blasts and Brussels crisis centre told people, “Stay where you are”.
Reuters news agency said shots were fired before the explosions at the airport went off.
Local media reported that the blasts happened near the American Airlines as hundreds of people were checking in.
Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from the airport, said there were dozens of ambulances at the scene and police were clearing the area of stranded passengers, some in shock.
“An eyewitness of the attack told us that he heard loud explosions and as he heard it, he took cover. He said the explosions were very loud and it was the most frightening moment of his life,” our correspondent said.
The country had been on high alert since the arrest in Brussels last week of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in last year’s Paris attacks that left 130 people dead.
Belgium’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, said on Monday the country was aware of the risk of a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Abdeslam.
“We know that stopping one cell can … push others into action. We are aware of it in this case,” he told public radio.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies