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Brussels affected in turn by the attacks. The brutal awakening of the European capital (Update)

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(B2) Everyone expected it a little. The Belgian authorities feared an attack similar to that of November 13 in Paris, at several points in Brussels. It takes place this March 22 in the morning, targeting major objectives of the European capital: its airport, its metro in the heart of the European district... (read: It is Europe that we wanted to target). In all, 34 dead and about 230 injured.

Explosions at Zaventem airport

In the departure hall of Brussels national airport (Zaventem), a first explosion occurs. It's not yet 8 o'clock. A few minutes later, a second. The false ceiling collapses. At this time when most of the day's departures are concentrated, the goal is to kill. The first report established by the federal prosecutor's office, shortly afterwards, spoke of several deaths and at least 25 injured. The second assessment is established at 14 dead and 106 wounded. The two explosions (1) were caused by several suicide bombers.

The European district touched in the heart

News of the airport attack has not yet dissipated as another explosion is reported. This time in the center of Brussels. At 9:11 a.m., just after rush hour, an explosion was heard in the Maelbeek metro, rue de la Loi, one of the major stations in the European district. Smoke is released, the metro is evacuated, buses are diverted. Very quickly, the entire European district was sealed off. A bomb exploded, tearing apart a subway stationary in the station.

A heavier toll in the metro than in Zaventem

The toll here too is significant and could get worse very quickly. The first assessment, which reported around ten deaths and around fifty injured, quickly rose: 20 dead, and about 130 injured, including 17 in very serious condition and 23 seriously, according to Yvan Mayeur the mayor of Brussels. The Thon international hotel, located nearby, was requisitioned to accommodate the first wounded.


Lockdown in Brussels

Immediately triggered, in addition to the disaster plan, to come to the aid of the victims but also an emergency attack plan. An emergency telephone number is set up, that of the crisis unit: 1771, very quickly saturated to the point that the authorities invite everyone to contact it only in an emergency.

The capital's road tunnels are closed to traffic, as well as all transport that has been interrupted. On social networks, the police and the crisis center call on everyone to stay at home. Students are confined to their schools.

Instructions displayed on the net or sent to parents in Brussels schools (credit: CE)
Instructions displayed on the net or sent to parents in Brussels schools (credit: B2)

what we feared

« What we feared has come true — declares Prime Minister Charles Michel immediately after a first crisis meeting —. Our fellow citizens have been struck by violent and cowardly indiscriminate attacks. Our first thoughts are for the victims. » At the end of the day, during a press conference, he added: “ Freedom was struck this morning in Brussels, as it had been in Paris, Madrid and London. It's a common fight, without borders, determined ».

A terrorist attack confirms the prosecution

The Federal Prosecutor's Office officially confirmed on Tuesday (March 22) that " the three explosions this morning, two at Zaventem airport and one in the Maelbeek metro station, are terrorist attacks ". At the airport, he said, “ it took some time to secure the place. Luggage was lying around and it was necessary to ensure their safety. Priority was given to the treatment of the wounded. »

An investigating judge seized

A " investigating judge specializing in terrorism was seized added the federal prosecutor. " Everything is implemented. The security forces watch all the camera images to trace the possible perpetrators, (…) see if there are no other fugitives. »

Islamic State claims

The attack was claimed shortly after by the Islamic State organization. Several searches and police actions (and mine clearance) took place during the day in different municipalities in Brussels, in Etterbeek and Schaerbeck.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde & Johanna Bouquet)

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(1) A third explosion took place shortly afterwards, which was not related to a terrorist attack. It was the police who blew up suspicious luggage.

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