Liveblog- Brussels terror attacks

Three explosions ripped through the heart of Brussels during rush hour this morning.

Two bombs were detonated in the Zaventem Airport with a third striking at the city’s metro line.

34 people have been reported to have died with a further  200 estimated to be injured with Islamic State claiming responsibility for the attacks

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The Belgian flag flutters at half mast on top of the Atomium in Brussels

 

LIVEBLOG:

16:00

Security measures in Brussels have been relaxed with public transport restarting and people no longer having to remain indoors. Air travel to Zaventem airport will remain down until tomorrow.

15:40

Sky News have published a video that features a picture purported to be of the IS fighters who attacked the Zaventem airport. The photo was released by the Belgian police

15:25

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack on social media according to Egyptian media outlet Amak news agency.

 

15:10

Three days of mourning have been declared in Belgium

14:55

Irish broadcaster and rugby pundit George Hook and controversy loving English celeb Katie Hopkins have expressed alternate opinions on the cause of the attack, pointing the finger at Germany and other political leaders

14:40

Figures for deaths remain at 34 while injuries are estimated at 200.

Belgian police have begun conducting raids on residences across the city in the hunt for members of the terror cell believed to still be on the run.

14:25

The Irish Government has released a statement on the attacks in Brussels calling an attack here ‘possible but unlikely.’

14:10

download.jpgUS President Barack Obama has opened his address to the people of Cuba by expressing his condolences and solidarity with the people of Brussels. Condemning what he described as ‘outrageous attacks against innocent people’ Obama reiterated that ‘the world must unite… in fighting against the scourge of terrorism’

Before addressing the crowd in Havana Obama  spoke in private with Belgian PM Charles Michel.

14:00

Nuclear plants across Belgium are on high alert with some closing and others sending workers home.

No threats have been received targeting any plants with the evacuations being part of emergency response procedure.

13:40

Speaking to sky news, Major General Chip Chapman a former head of counter-terrorism with the British Ministry of Defense has said that he believes the attack was a free lance attack inspired by rather than guided or plotted by Islamic State.

General Chapman was surprised that Belgian authorities were not on critical alert since the arrest of Salah Abdeslam until the rest of his terrorist cell was wrapped up.”

General Chapman also pointed out that “the sophistication of this, with two locations would suggest that there was both reconnaissance and pre-planning. They may have brought the timeline forward but this was obviously a plot in train before the arrest of Abdeslam.”

 

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Major General Chip Chapman

13:05

A third  unexploded suicide belt is found along with the Kalashnikov in the airport.

AFP has reported that the army bomb squad has mobilized to disable the bomb.

13:00

Latest figures claim that 34 people have now been declared dead in the city.

14 deaths have been reported at the airport with an additional 20 at the metro station.

12:54

Belgian police inside the airport discover a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the departures area

 

12:45

Irish President Michael D Higgins expresses his condolences to the people of Belgium in a statement the president has said he is “deeply saddened” at “the tragic loss of lives” in Brussels.

“These attacks strike at the fundamental right of all to live in peace. These actions must not undermine the will of all Europeans to live and work together”, he said.

“I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the families of all those bereaved and affected by today’s tragedies. All of our thoughts are with the people of Brussels at this time of tragedy”.

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12:25

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders tells Belgian TV that suspects connected to the bombing may still be at large within the city

 

11:50

US Presidential candidate Donald Trump has also waded in on the situation in Brussels.With some media outlets claiming that the targeting of the American Airlines desk was a conscious decision trump has said’the US has to be “very, very vigilant”.

“Brussels was an absolutely crime-free city, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

“Paris is almost as bad.“Paris is no longer the beautiful city of lights…They’re cities in fear.

“You see what’s happening in London and other cities. It’s not pretty to watch. Many cities will be this way with what’s taking place.”

11:30

French PM Francois Hollande has also released a statement saying;

“Terrorists have struck in Belgium. It was Europe that it was aimed at, but the whole world is concerned.”

– FRANCOIS HOLLANDE
Security has been heightened in France, Germany and Hollnad in the wake of the attacks.A train station in Amsterdam has been evacuated after a suspicious package was spotted after the arrival of a train from Brussels.

11:00

The death toll has reached 26 according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF

11 deaths reported at the airport with a further 15 at the metro station. An estimated 80 people have been injured between the two sites

10:40

Belgian Prime minister Charles Michel releases a statement saying  ‘What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks’calling the attacks ‘violent and cowardly.’

He calls for citizens to avoid going out in public until the threat of further attacks subsides.

Charles Michel speaking at the press conference ( with English dubbing)

10:10

A revised death toll from the Brussels fire department says that 21 people have been killed in the explosions

9:40

The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office has confirmed that at least one of the airport explosions was a suicide attack

9:12

Taoiseach Enda Kenny for Ireland and Europe to stand with Belgium as the department of foreign affairs say no Irish casualties or injuries have been reported

8:50

Passengers in Maalbeek metro station are evacuated through the underground tunnels

8:20

Photos begin to emerge from inside the airport and metro station

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8:11

A third explosion is reported in the city centre metro station Maalbeek.

Maalbeek is one of the nearest metro stations to the EU offices and Parliament and was packed with rush hour commuters.

Smoke fills the street outside the station as people stampede to safety.

 

 

 

8:30

Thirteen people reported dead and 35 wounded from the attacks.

The airport explosions are said to be targeted at the American Airlines check-in desk

 

 

 

7:46 am 

Two explosions reported in departures terminal of Brussels Zaventem airport.

Eyewitnesses report hearing gunfire and Arabic shouting before the explosions.

The attacks come just three days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam in the city.

Abdeslam was Europe’s most wanted man for his involvement in the terrorist attacks on Paris last November.

 

Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort  confirmed the explosions as a terror attack on the city.

The Belgian authorities have raised security levels to their highest.

 

 

 

 

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