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28/06/2016

Live: Brussels attacks – The aftermath

Justice & Home Affairs

Live: Brussels attacks – The aftermath

La Libre.be

After the twin attacks on Brussels’ airport and metro station on Tuesday morning (22 March), the death toll stands at 31 confirmed dead, with more than injured.

Key facts:

  • The double attack left 31 dead and 316 remain hospitalised, including 63 in serious condition.
  • The alert level of the terrorist threat has been brought down to 3.
  • Police are looking for a second suspect in connection with the suicide bombing of metro Maelbeek. A man was seen with a big bag next to the kamikaze on CCTV footage.
  • Jan Jambon (Minister of Interior) and Koen Goens (Minister of Justice), under pressure because of Turkey’s allegations that it had earlier signaled Ibrahim El Bakraoui (one of the kamikazes) as a dangerous individual linked to jihadist activities, submitted their resignations to the Prime Minister. Charles Michel has refused them, arguing that present circumstances demand that they both remain in office.
  • The first victim of the attacks has been named – Adelma Tapia Ruiz, a 36-year old Peruvian woman who died at the airport. Names of other victims and some of the pictured survivors have also started to emerge.
  • Contrary to what happened in November, following the Paris attacks, Brussels is not under a lockdown: schools, universities, shopping centers, regional and municipal authorities remain open.
  • Most railway stations in Brussels are open since Wednesday morning, with passengers being systematically searched, and all metro lines and  buses are now running in the Belgian capital, although some stations are not yet served.
  • Zaventem airport will remain closed until Sunday, and all flights are being diverted to other Belgian and international airports.
  • The EU institutions are closed Good Friday and Easter Monday, and reopen on Tuesday.
Matthew Tempest 29/03/201617:06

AFP are reporting that it could be “months” before Brussels airport fully reopeds, following the extensive damage to the departures hall.

A test-run of the temporary measures installed to help passengers check in is being road-tested today (Tuesday) by some 800 airport staff, in the hope that at least some services can be resumed on Wednesday.

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201613:30

Commission deplores the death of Patricia Rizzo

Commission said one of its officials died in the Brussels attacks (at Maalbeek metro station). It’s Patricia Rizzo, 48, who had been working in Brussels for several months for the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Three Commission officials are treated for injuries (also victims of the Maalbeek blast). They are recovering. The Commission has no knowledge of victims from other EU institutions.

James Crisp 29/03/201611:43

Charlie Hebdo, a victim of terror itself, has a typically dark take on the attacks. The front page features popular Belgian singer Stromae asking “Papa where are you?”, a reference to one of his hits. Various body parts respond, “I am here”.

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201611:10

Georgi Gotev 29/03/201607:52

Questions raised over Belgium's handling of terrorism case

Belgium yesterday freed the sole suspect charged over last week’s Islamic State attacks in Brussels that left 35 dead on Monday (28 March), raising fresh questions about the handling of the case by beleaguered Belgian authorities.

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201620:53

Manhunt resumes for the third suspect in the Brussels airport bombing after the sole suspect charged in the attacks was released for lack of evidence. Belgian police released a video of a mysterious man in a dark hat seen in the company of the bombers who attacked Brussels Airport, indicating that he is still at large.

“Police are seeking to identify this man,” the Belgian Federal Police’s website reportedly said today.

The man who was released, Fayçal Cheffou, was among those taken into custody and facing preliminary terror charges. Belgian media had claimed the man was the mysterious suspect in the white jacket and dark hat spotted with the two bombers at the airport the morning of the attacks.

But the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s office saidd that new evidence uncovered by investigators revealed there were no grounds to keep Fayçal Cheffou in custody and he was released.

The others detained on suspicion of terrorist activity, according to BBC, include:

Salah Abdeslam – arrested on 18 March in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. Key suspect in the Paris attacks last November. Charged with “terrorist murder”

‘Amine Choukri’ – arrested on 18 March with Abdeslam, real name not yet known. Also used the alias Monir Ahmed Alaaj. Documented by German police near Ulm in a car with Abdeslam last October. Charged with “terrorist murder” over the Paris attacks

Rabah N – arrested on 25 March and charged with participating in terrorist activities in relation to a foiled plot to attack Paris

Abderamane A – shot in the leg and arrested on 25 March at a tram stop in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels. Charged in relation to the foiled plot to attack Paris. Jailed for seven years in France in 2005 and banned from entering France for life aiding in the assassination of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in 2001.

Aboubakar A – arrested on 24 March in a car in Brussels, charged with participating in terrorist activities

Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O – arrested during raids on 27 March and charged with belonging to a terrorist group

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201614:01

Political scientist José Ignacio Torreblanca’s clear analysis is worth reading: Each terrorist attack on European soil runs according to a plot as predictable as it is depressing: while the terrorists target Europe as a whole, Europe’s countries respond as individuals, argues Torreblanca. Instead of raising the solidarity clause in article 222 of the Treaty, which would have required a collective and coordinated response by the European Union, the French government preferred to use article 42, which put the response into intergovernmental hands and outside of the EU’s institutions.

To read on:

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:49

Death toll rises to 35. Four more people died in the hospital.

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:45

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:30

Where do we stand on Monday (28 March) at midday?

Belgium’s Crisis Centre has revised the death toll from last Tuesday’s bomb blasts at Brussels airport and on a rush-hour metro to 34 dead, including the three attackers.

Previously, it had said 31 people were killed, including the attackers, and more than 300 people were injured.

It also said on its website it had identified 28 of the victims. Of these, 15 died at the airport of whom six were Belgian and nine were foreign nationals.

The 13 victims of the metro blast included 10 Belgians and three foreign nationals.

The foreigners killed in the attacks include British, Italian, Chinese, Dutch, French, Germans, Swedish and U.S. nationals.

Belgian police carried out 13 more raids on Sunday. Nine people were questioned, with five of them later being released.

Amid fears of further attacks, police swooped in and around Brussels and Antwerp.

There has been criticism that Europe’s not done enough to share intelligence about suspected Islamist militants, but it appears now that cooperation is deepening, Euronews reports.

Dutch anti-terrorism police arrested a 32-year-old man in Rotterdam on Sunday. He is suspected of preparing an attack on France.

Three other people were also detained, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile, in Italy,

police have released a picture of Algerian national Djamal Eddine Quali, who is suspected of making documents for militants linked to the Brussels bombings. He was arrested on Saturday near Salerno, in southern Italy (please see below for further details)

Daniela Vincenti 28/03/201611:15

After Brussels, Lahore ..

A suicide bomber, who attacked a park thronging with families celebrating Easter, killed at least 72 people in Pakistan, with children among the dead.

More than 200 people were hurt when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children’s play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied.

Witnesses described children screaming as people carried the injured in their arms, while frantic relatives searched for loved ones.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:51

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:33

Brussels police fired water cannons at far-right protesters who took over the square where a peace rally was held to commemorate the victims of the recent attacks. According to public broadcaster RTBF, between 500 and 1,000 people gathered at at Place de la Bourse, a memorial site for the victims of the attacks, when men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas interrupted the rally.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:24

Arabic-speaking Twitter users have been trolling a cartoon decrying recent terror attacks in Belgium and France by sharing a new version adding Turkey and Saudi Arabia to the list, arguing Europe has been turning a blind eye to attacks in other countries.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201620:01

Latest news on the investigation:

Belgian prosecutors confirmed they have identified 24 of the 31 people killed inTuesday’s attacks so far – 11 of them foreign nationals.

Fayçal Cheffou has been charged by prosecutors in Brussels with playing a central role in Tuesday’s attacks.

According to Guardian, his brother had been killed by Belgian police a decade ago. Belgian daily Le Soir quoted the mayor of Brussels saying that Cheffou had been detained several times at Parc Maximilien, where he sought to encourage asylum seekers camped there to turn to radical extremism. Cheffou was “dangerous”, the mayor said, and had been banned from the park.

There is speculation he’s behind a Youtube channel called The Oppressed, for whom the self-described journalist produced videos about human rights abuses against Palestinians, the Quran, police brutality and reporting on Hasna Ait Boulahcen, who died in a raid linked to the Paris attacks, according to the Independent. He has been identified by a taxi driver, understood to have driven the three bombers to Brussels Airport before the explosions.

An Algerian man suspected of making fake identity documents for the Paris and Brussels attackers has been captured in Italy.

Djamal Eddine Ouali was arrested by armed anti-terrorism police in the southern region of Salerno on Saturday.

Belgian authorities issued an arrest warrant for the 40-year-old, who was wanted for “aiding and abetting illegal immigration” by producing false papers which could be used for illegal travel.

Italian state police added he was part of a “network of counterfeiters of residence permits linked to the Brussels attacks”.

Local media reported that Ouali’s name was found in files uncovered during a raid in an apartment near Brussels last October – with photos of the militants involved in last November’s attacks emerging, and details of their aliases also being revealed.

Ouali could be extradited to Belgium in the coming days, Italian authorities said.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:58

Brexit would weaken EU security, says former US military commander

A British exit from the European Union would significantly weaken the bloc’s security, David Petraeus, a former U.S. military commander and CIA director wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, urging Britons not to vote to leave the union at a June referendum.

The comments, days after suicide bomb attacks killed 31 people in Brussels, support one of the British government’s key arguments in its campaign to win over undecided voters – that the country is safer inside the 28-country bloc.

“I encourage my British friends to think twice before withdrawing from one of the most important institutions that undergirds Western strength – the European Union,” Petraeus wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

He said that whilst a retreat into the “perceived safety of isolation” was tempting, history had shown such decisions were a strategic dead end.

“There is no question in my mind that a “Brexit” would deal a significant blow to the EU’s strength and resilience at exactly the moment when the West is under attack from multiple directions,” Petraeus insisted.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:54

Despite Belgian authorities called off the march on Sunday, there are a lot of people at the Bourse today.

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:51

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:50

Brussels airport gives a first analysis of damage in the terminal:

A team of engineers, technicians and independent external experts have carried out a first analysis of the damage caused by the explosions at Brussels Airport on 22 March 2016 after detectives released the terminal yesterday afternoon [Friday 25 March] when they had concluded their investigations. This first, provisional analysis shows that both main building and the Connector building where hand luggage and passengers are checked, are stable. Brussels Airport will now investigate the possibilities to install temporary check-in desks.

More details can be found on http://www.brusselsairport2203.be

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:46

Daniela Vincenti 27/03/201612:43

Where do we stand on Sunday morning (27 March):

Belgian authorities follow leads in the investigation into the Brussels attacks after charging a suspected airport bomber, while a shrine to victims is expected to draw more mourners despite the cancellation of a “march against fear.

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201621:53

Reuters reports: Organisers called off a march on Sunday in Brussels that was meant to show defiance to last week’s bomb attacks, after senior officials urged people to stayaway to avoid putting further strain an over-taxed police force.

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur and Interior Minister Jan Jambon asked for the demonstration to be delayed for several weeks.

“Given the security level 3 and the capacity of the police, the interior minister and the mayor ask you to delay tomorrow’s gathering,” the mayor said on Twitter.

The organiser, Emmanuel Foulon, who is a spokesman at the European Parliament, said he fully understood that argument.

“The security of our citizens is an absolute priority,” he said by email. “We totally agree with the authorities’ request to delay this plan for a later date. We in turn ask citizens notto come to Brussels this Sunday.”

The march, which organisers had expected thousands to attend, was meant to start at the Bourse, which has become a focal point for expressions of emotion for the victims of the attacks.

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201621:41

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201616:49

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201616:30

AFP reports: Brussels airport said it will not reopen before Tuesday at the earliest as it implements new security measures and repairs the departure hall wrecked by the bombers, believed to be from the Islamic State group.

Belgians in mourning will gather Sunday for a rally in the Place de la Bourse, in central Brussels, now carpeted with flowers and tributes to the 31 killed and 300 injured in the March 22 metro and airport bombs, with a national solidarity march also planned.

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201615:19

Belgian prosecutors have charged a man with terrorist offences, in relation to the deadly attacks. The federal prosecutor’s office said an arrest warrant has been issued for a man only identified as Faycal C. He is wanted for “involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist killings and attempted terrorist killings,” the statement said.

According to Belgian media, the man called Faycal Cheffou has been identified as the man suspected of fleeing Brussels airport after two alleged accomplices blew themselves up there.

A police raid was conducted at his home. No arms or explosives were found, prosecutors said.

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201614:59

AFP reports: Belgium’s network of nuclear power plants and other major infrastructure face the threat of a cyber-attack over the next five years, the European Union’s counter-terror chief said in an interview published Saturday in the daily La Libre Belgique.

“I would not be surprised if there was an attempt in the next five years to use the Internet to commit an attack,” Gilles de Kerchove said.

“It would take the form of entering the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), which is the nerve centre of a nuclear power plant, a dam, air traffic control centre or railroad switching station,” he added.

Belgium’s neighbours have raised concerns over the country’s creaking nuclear plants for some time, after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident.

According to reports, a security guard at a Belgian nuclear power plant was murdered Thursday and his access badge stolen. Officials were not immediately available to comment.

These reports follow the discovery by investigators last year of surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear plant official in the flat of a suspect linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks.

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201609:33

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201609:29

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201609:23

Pittella: The ‘Trumps’ of Europe hamper cooperation on counter-terrorism

The blind illusion of some government that think they can tackle global threats unilaterally must be blamed for the lack of cooperation in Europe to fight terrorism and find a common response to solve the migration crisis, said S&D leader Gianni Pittella, in an interview with EurActiv.

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 26/03/201609:18

A short recap of where we stand on Saturday morning, based on Reuters and AFP: Belgian and French police continue work to dismantle a cell of jihadists blamed for the Brussels and Paris attacks following a series of arrests on Friday.

Belgian police staged fresh raids late Thursday and Friday, detaining nine people in all, including three linked to the Paris attacks in which 130 people died.

Meanwhile, the process of identifying the airport victims is painstakingly slow, complicated by the violence of the explosions and because many of the victims were from overseas.

“The number of non-identified people is very, very exceptional,” federal police spokesman Michael Jonnois told AFP earlier this week. “It was an ‘open’ catastrophe, there was no list of who was in the train or at the airport terminal — there was no passenger list like when there’s a plane crash,” he said.

James Crisp 25/03/201616:48

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201616:03

James Crisp 25/03/201615:51

James Crisp 25/03/201615:44

AFP reports German police have arrested a 28-year-old Moroccan man whose mobile-phone text messages may link him to one of the Brussels bombers, the news weekly Der Spiegel and ARD TV channel reported Friday.

The man, who had been barred from the European Union’s border-free Schengen area, was arrested in Giessen, near Frankfurt, late Wednesday by police who checked his identity at the local railway station, they said.

German police and the public prosecutor’s office in Giessen could not immediately be reached to comment on the reports. Friday was a public holiday in Germany.

ARD said an SMS on the man’s phone mentioned the name of one of the two El Bakraoui brothers, who blew themselves up in Tuesday’s bomb attacks in Brussels.

The police also found another message, with the French word “fin” (“end”), that was sent on Tuesday at 9:08 am (0808 GMT), two minutes before Khalid El Bakraoui detonated his bomb in the Brussels subway, der Spiegel said on its website.

Shortly before, his brother Ibrahim El Bakraoui was one of two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels’ Zaventem airport.

The arrested man had been in contact “with at least one person in the (terrorist) group” in the hours before the attacks, ARD said without giving details.

The triple bomb blasts killed 31 people and left 300 injured. It was the worst terror attack in Belgium’s history.

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201615:21

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201615:18

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201614:49

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201614:28

Daniela Vincenti 25/03/201614:20

According to Belgian TV RTBF a new police operation is underway in Schaerbeek, near Place Meiser, as manhunt continues. A blast and gun fire were heard as heavily armed federal policemen have entered an apartment building.

The area was closed off and a nearby tram was evacuated as armed police and military vehicles were seen in the area, according to RBTF News.

A bomb disposal squad and specialist robot sparked speculation that there had been a controlled explosion.

Seven people have been arrested in Brussels in other raids overnight and in the early hours of this morning.

James Crisp 25/03/201614:00

David Dixon, the British man missing after the metro attacks and who called family to let them know he was fine after the airport bombing, has been confirmed as among the dead. He was 53 and lived in Brussels with his partner and son.

James Crisp 25/03/201613:49

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Interior Minister Jan Jambon, and Justice Minister Koen Geens will appear before a joint government commission at 2pm to answer questions about the attacks. Le Soir reported they will have to respond to “questions that have no answers.”

James Crisp 25/03/201613:39

Loubna Lafkiri was 35, and a mother of three. There is a Facebook memorial page after the link.

James Crisp 25/03/201613:36

Twitter has told us that the messages of support in Arabic written near Maelbeek means “No to terrorism”.

James Crisp 25/03/201613:33

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201613:02

Minister: Denmark's security opt-out 'problematic' after Brussels attacks

Denmark’s Minister for Justice Søren Pind worries that his country will increasingly miss out on important information that could prevent terror attacks, after EU ministers yesterday (24 March) agreed to step up the information sharing between intelligence services.

EurActiv.com

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201612:27

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201612:27

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201612:27

Henriette Jacobsen 25/03/201612:26

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:44

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:40

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:32

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:26

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:25

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201611:20

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201610:48

Kerry in Brussels, will meet Juncker

US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Brussels on Friday to offer Washington’s support and issue condolences after attacks claimed by Islamic State left 31 dead and 300 wounded.

His plane arrived at around 0800 GMT, an AFP reporter accompanying Kerry said.

Kerry will meet with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as well as the country’s King Philippe.

He will also meet European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, before flying to Washington later in the day.

A fifth suspect has been arrested this morning in Forest, RTBF announced, without further details. However, the Prosecutor’s office has declined to confirm.

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201610:21

Syrian wanted following attacks

Naïm Al Hamed, a 28-year old Syrian, is among the five suspects sought in conjunction with the Paris and the Brussels terrorist attacks, writes DH.

http://www.dhnet.be/actu/belgique/nouveau-suspect-pour-paris-et-bruxelles-naim-al-hamed-direct-56f4542f35702a22d5b3124e

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201610:09

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201608:55

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201608:53

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201608:40

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201608:25

Another major blunder of the Belgian police?

Belgian police works in mysterious ways. A policeman from Malines/Mechelen had the address of Salam Abdeslam, the most wanted man after the Paris attacks, since 7 December. But the report remained in Malines and never reached Brussels, writes DH.

http://m.dhnet.be/actu/belgique/un-policier-avait-l-adresse-de-salah-abdeslam-a-molenbeek-depuis-le-7-decembre-56f4542e35702a22d5b3124c

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201608:25

Matthew Tempest 25/03/201606:50

Six people arrested in Brussels after attacks, one in Paris

Six people were arrested yesterday (24 March) in a series of police raids in Brussels, federal prosecutors said, two days after jihadist attacks in the Belgian capital left 31 dead.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 25/03/201606:39

Matthew Tempest 25/03/201606:35

EU justice ministers step up intelligence sharing after Brussels attacks

EU justice ministers on Thursday (24 March) agreed to set up a team of national counter-terrorism experts to strengthen Europol as a response to the attacks in Brussels that killed 31 and injured more than 300.

EurActiv.com

Henriette Jacobsen 24/03/201619:22

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201617:39

Organ donation moves the Belgians

In the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, Léopold Hecht, a 20-year old Law student in the St. Louis University in Brussels, succumbed to his injuries. He was among the victims who died in the Maelbeek metro attack.

Knowing Léopold’s views on the matter, his parents donated his organs. The gesture moved the Belgians.

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201617:38

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201617:14

Matthew Tempest 24/03/201617:03

Two Belgian ministers offered to resign over bomb suspect

Belgium’s interior and justice ministers offered to resign on Thursday (24 March) over the failure to track an Islamic State militant expelled by Turkey last year who blew himself up at Brussels airport on Tuesday.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201615:20

Verhofstadt: ” Information sharing is imperative. EU should set up intelligence capability”

Speaking ahead of the extraordinary meeting of ministers for justice and security which is taking place now, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE Group leader, urged member states to go beyond better coordination between our national security services and set up a European intelligence capability.

“Today, ministers should agree on tangible and concrete measures. While I welcome their efforts to improve the cooperation and interoperability of national security databases, this is clearly not enough”.

“We need a mandatory exchange of operational intelligence between all 28 national security agencies. This should be the first step towards the creation of a real European intelligence capacity,which is able to gather intelligence and set up EU wide operations. If terrorists know no borders, why should our security services be limited by them? To refute the idea of a European intelligence agency on the grounds of national sovereignty is as absurd as it is dangerous. Security has to prevail over sovereignity,” Verhofstadts stated.

http://www.alde.eu/nc/press/press-and-release-news/press-release/article/guy-verhofstadt-member-states-should-go-beyond-better-coordination-between-our-national-security-s/

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201615:03

Belgian police mount manhunt for two attacks suspects

Belgian authorities are now hunting a man with a large bag seen talking to Khalid El Bakraoui on CCTV footage at Maalbeek station, who then did not get on to the train, AFP reported.

Two fugive suspects are therefore being hunted – the unknown man with the hat caught on CCTV at Zaventem airport and the equally unknown man at Maalbaek station.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the attacks, the worst in the country’s history, had killed or wounded people of around 40 nationalities, with doctors saying they were treating injuries “seen in war.”

Very few of the dead have been formally identified but stories were emerging of lucky escapes and tragic ill fortune of people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201614:15

From Trump to Brexit: ripple effects of Brussels attack

As Brussels reels from an attack by Islamic State jihadists, analysts warn of a ripple effect that could further whip up populist sentiment on the continent and in the United States and push the British to vote to leave the EU.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201614:09

Matthew Tempest 24/03/201613:44

Tributes spring up outside Maelbeek station, as road reopens

Tributes have been left outside the Maelbeek metro station, where at least 20 people were killed in Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels, after police reopened the main road passing past it this morning (24 March).

EurActiv.com

Henriette Jacobsen 24/03/201613:13

According to the Flemish TV station VTM Nieuws, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Security and Home Affairs Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens offered their resignations in a government meeting due to big mistakes in Belgium’s recent anti-terrorism operations, but Prime Minister Charles Michel refused the idea in both cases.

Matthew Tempest 24/03/201612:36

Matthew Tempest 24/03/201612:30

Good – and entirely unreassuring – exclusive from the Telegraph’s man in Brussels

Henriette Jacobsen 24/03/201612:09

EurActiv has the draft statement of the Council meeting of EU ministers for Justice and Security this evening in Brussels on the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The statement includes two interesting points: EU ministers will back the Commission’s intensified work in the EU Internet Forum “to counter terrorist propaganda and work with IT companies to develop by June 2016 a code of conduct against hate speech online.”

Secondly, EU member states will also set up a joint liaison team of national counter-terrorism experts at Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) “to investigate the wider European and international dimensions of the current terrorist threat.”

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201611:46

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201611:11

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201610:53

Poland’s prime minister says migrants cannot be settled in the country following the attacks

Poland cannot accept migrants at the moment, Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Wednesday (23 March), speaking a day after bomb attacks shook Brussels, killing more than 30 people. “Twenty eight EU countries agreed to solve the issue through relocation… But I will say it very clearly. I do not see it possible to allow migrants in Poland at the moment,” Szydlo told Polish TV station Superstacja. Last year, the EU agreed to resettle tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa in each member state. Warsaw agreed to take 7,000 of the 160,000 people covered by the deal – Reuters

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201610:52

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201610:40

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201610:12

USA warns of potential risks throughout Europe

“The State Department alerts US citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the 22 March attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL. Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation. This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.

US citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.”

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/europe-travel-alert.html

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201610:12

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201610:01

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201609:55

US Mission to EU: “Flash! Secretary Kerry’s Travel to Brussels”

“Secretary Kerry will travel to Brussels, Belgium, on Friday to formally express the condolences of the United States for the loss of life in yesterday’s terrorist attacks, and to meet with Belgian and European Union officials. He will reiterate the strong support of the United States for Belgian efforts to both investigate these attacks and continue contributing to international efforts to counter violent extremism. The Secretary will be arriving from Moscow, where he expects to discuss a range of bilateral and regional security issues with President Putin and other Russian officials.” End of statement

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201609:47

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Juncker after Brussels terror attacks: ‘We need a Security Union’

“We feel we need a Capital Market Union, Energy Union, Economic and Monetary Union but we also think we need security union”, stressed Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday (23 March), after terrorist attacks killed 31 and left over 200 injured on Tuesday (22 March) in Brussels.

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201609:03

Fighting terrorism requires massive intrusion into society

Any successful counter to terrorism can’t be carried out by security forces. It must be carried out by intelligence services, and massive intrusion in society is needed, writes George Friedman.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201608:44

Brussels attacks: A poor plan executed with good bombs

Stratfor, the global intelligence company, writes that what the attacks lacked in planning, they made up for in the quality of the bombs used.

As it happened, only two devices were detonated at the airport; the third was found and later destroyed by police. According to CBS reports, police raids have yielded two additional devices containing over 30 pounds of the improvised explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP). These devices are probably the ones that would not fit in the cab. Had those devices been deployed and detonated, they could have caused far more damage.

Statfor writes that the group’s advanced bombmaking capability is alarming. TATP is notoriously difficult to work with. It is an extremely sensitive substance, and the reaction required to synthesize it can easily cause an intense fire or an explosion. For this reason, Hamas bombmakers nicknamed TATP “the mother of Satan.” Furthermore, TATP has a very short shelf life and tends to degrade quickly — sometimes spontaneously detonating as it does. Because of this, synthesizing large batches of the explosive is quite challenging.

That the Brussels cell produced dozens of pounds of TATP indicates that it includes an accomplished bombmaker. Media reports suggest that the cell’s bombmaker is a man named Najim Laachraoui, who also allegedly fabricated the bombs used in the November Paris attacks. If Laachraoui was indeed the bombmaker in both attacks, he has improved his skill in the past four months.

Skilled bombmakers are a precious terrorist commodity, and finding Laachraoui – or whoever made the bombs for the Brussels attacks – before he can establish another lab and build more bombs is essential, Stratfor writes.

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201608:29

DH: El Bakraoui brothers targeted the Belgian nuclear centrals

The Belgian tabloid La Dernière Heure (DH) publishes the “breaking news” that the El Bakraoui brothers had plans to attack the Belgian nuclear centrals.

http://www.dhnet.be/actu/belgique/exclusif-les-freres-el-bakraoui-visaient-nos-centrales-nucleaires-direct-56f3778d35702a22d5ad606b

It’s in fact a rehash of an older story, about the videotaping of the head of the Belgian nuclear research development program, soon after the November Paris attacks. The camera was hidden in a garden.

What is new is that, reportedly, the two men who went to pick up the camera were the El Bakraoui brothers.

DH did a blunder yesterday by reporting that the third suspect caught on camera at the airport was arrested.

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201607:38

Belgium’s ambassador to Australia has criticised the country’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for linking the refugee crisis to the deadly bombings in Brussels, labelling his comments as “dangerous” – ABC news.

Samuel Morgan 24/03/201607:14

Clinton: Europe must do more to 'share burden' of counterterrorism with US

With Belgium reeling from deadly attacks, White House hopeful Hillary Clinton on Wednesday (23 March) called on Europe to take more decisive steps to combat terrorism, including improving border controls and intelligence cooperation.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 24/03/201607:06

Erdogan: Turkey deported one of the Brussels attacks perpetrators as a foreign fighter

One of the Brussels attackers was caught in Turkey in June last year and deported to the Netherlands as a foreign fighter, but Belgium let him loose, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday (23 March).

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 23/03/201622:40

AFP reports: Vigil tonight at Brussels airport Hundreds of workers from the Brussels airport hit by a terror attack carried flowers and candles on Wednesday for a silent march and vigil near the still shuttered facility. Some wore their work access cards, armbands and fluorescent safety vests for the memorial just next to Zaventem Airport, where at least 15 people were killed in Tuesday’s suicide bombings.

“It could have happened to me,” said Gregory Lupant, a security guard, who added he was worried about colleagues “who had not been heard from, and others who had lost a leg or finger.” The airport employs some 20,000 people, many of whom live nearby. Some of the staff brought their families for the emotional gathering, where workers hugged each other and recounted where they were when the explosions happened. https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/712723939105988608

Daniela Vincenti 23/03/201620:03

Messages of solidarity poured out on social media, with thousands of people sharing images of words written on the pavement. Here is one of the latest, saying ‘I was dreaming for another world’

Daniela Vincenti 23/03/201619:55

AFP reports: Brussels attack doctors talk about ‘war’ wounds

“Shredded” bodies, mangled limbs and charred flesh: the victims of the Brussels terror attacks were rushed to hospital suffering the type of wounds normally seen in combat zones, doctors said Wednesday.

“It’s war,” said Jacques Creteur, head of the intensive care unit at Erasme hospital in the Belgian capital. “It’s the kind of trauma seen in war.”

His hospital, which cared for 16 victims, was among those around Belgium swamped by a wave of casualties after assailants triggered blasts at Zaventem airport and a subway train that killed 31 and wounded 270 people.

Three patients were still hanging between life and death at Erasme on Wednesday.

Checking off the list of injuries, Creteur said: “Limbs torn off, impacts from flying glass and metal shrapnel — either from the bomb or, for example, furniture — head trauma, vascular lesions and fractures.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told Belgian television RTBF that around 40 nationalities were among the dead and wounded.

James Crisp 23/03/201618:24

UKIP reaction to the security union idea:

“Juncker must be literally mad if he thinks British people will sign up to a security union with the EU after it has shown itself dangerously incompetent on this issue.

“As limbs and dead bodies are scattered over the streets of Brussels, does he really believe that inexperienced bureaucrats at the European Commission are better placed to deal with British security than British security services?”

James Crisp 23/03/201618:19

James Crisp 23/03/201618:13

Belgian prosecutor’s office has denied Erdoğan claims, according to Belgian media.

James Crisp 23/03/201618:12

Turkey’s President has said one of the Brussels attackers had been caught in Turkey in June 2015, and deported to the Netherlands by his request, according to Reuters.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey reported the deportation to the Belgian authorities in July 2015 and also notified Dutch authorities, adding that Belgium “ignored” Turkey’s warning that the attacker was a foreign fighter.

James Crisp 23/03/201618:00

Turkey’s President has said one of the Brussels attackers had been caught in Turkey in June 2015, and deported to the Netherlands by his request, according to Reuters.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey reported the deportation to the Belgian authorities in July 2015 and also notified Dutch authorities, adding that Belgium “ignored” Turkey’s warning that the attacker was a foreign fighter.

James Crisp 23/03/201617:34

James Crisp 23/03/201617:13

Juncker warms to the idea of an EU intelligence agency

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said today (23 March) that better cooperation of the member states secret services was needed to respond to the challenge of terrorism.

EurActiv.com

James Crisp 23/03/201617:03

European Union interior and justice ministers will hold a crisis meeting on Thursday in Brussels following the jihadist attacks that killed 31 people in the Belgian capital, EU officials said Wednesday.

“Following Brussels attacks, EU2016NL convenes meeting tomorrow of EU Justice and Security Ministers and representatives EU institutions,” said the Netherlands, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, in a message on Twitter.

James Crisp 23/03/201616:58

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Commission calls for closer cooperation between EU countries after Brussels terror attacks

“The Commission staffs are ready to contribute to the fight in Europe against what has become so frequently an enormous stress for our people,” said EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Kristalina Georgieva.

James Crisp 23/03/201616:38

AFP reports:

Authorities on Wednesday named two suicide bombers who struck Brussels as brothers linked to the prime suspect in the Paris attacks, as a manhunt for a third assailant in Belgium’s bloodiest terror assault gathered pace.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor named Ibrahim El Bakraoui as one of two men who blew themselves up at Brussels airport Tuesday, while his brother Khalid struck a crowded metro train in coordinated blasts that left 31 dead and 270 injured.

“The third man is on the run,” prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said of a man seen on CCTV pushing a trolley through Zaventem Airport alongside the two suicide bombers, shortly before the attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

“He left his bag with the biggest bomb in it which exploded later because it was so unstable,” Van Leeuw told a press conference, adding that police had found a massive stash of explosives in a Brussels apartment.

Belgian investigators have unleashed a dragnet, releasing CCTV images of the three airport attackers — with the second suicide bomber and the third man, on the run, still unidentified.

Belgium stood still at noon to mark a minute’s silence for the victims of the carnage that left bodies strewn across the airport’s departures hall and a train at Maalbeek station, near the European Union’s headquarters.

Police had already been hunting the Bakraoui brothers, both Belgian nationals, over their links to Salah Abdeslam, the key suspect in the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, who was arrested in Brussels on Friday after four months on the run.

– Suicide bomber’s desperate note –

The attackers’ link to Abdeslam — who told investigators he was planning an attack on Brussels — has underscored fears about Europe’s struggle to combat homegrown terrorism.

Van Leeuw revealed that airport bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui had left a desperate “will” on a computer that he dumped in a trash can on the street, in which he said he was being “hunted everywhere”.

“I don’t know what to do,” the letter read. And in an apparent reference to the Paris attacker Abdeslam, he added: “I don’t want to end up in a cell next to him.”

Investigators had found an unexploded bomb, an IS flag and bomb-making materials in an apartment on the same street in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek on Tuesday night.

The find also included 15 kilos (33 pounds) of TATP high explosive, Van Leeuw confirmed.

Authorities are under heavy pressure over their apparent inability to undermine jihadist networks in Belgium, Europe’s top exporter of jihadist fighters to Syria per capita.

Broadcaster RTBF said metro bomber Khalid El Bakraoui had rented an apartment in Brussels last week under a false name where Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found.

He is also linked to another apartment in southern Belgium that Abdeslam and other jihadists used before the Paris attacks.

James Crisp 23/03/201616:33

Flight data deal is a reason for UK to stay in the EU, says Tory MEP

Timothy Kirkhope, the British MEP shepherding the controversial passenger name records (PNR) bill through the European Parliament, has named security one of the main reasons for the UK to remain in the EU.

EurActiv.com

James Crisp 23/03/201616:30

Four of the major political groups in the European Parliament have issued a joint statement on the attacks.

“We are shocked by the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels and in the National Airport of Zaventem that took many innocent lives on the 22nd of March. These barbaric and inhumane acts cannot be justified by any cause or any ideology.

“What happened in Brussels on 22 March is not only an attack on Belgium, it is an attack against Europe and against our shared founding values.”

You can find the whole statement <a href="http://www.pes.eu/statement_following_the_terrorist_attacks_in_belgiummiddle“>here.

James Crisp 23/03/201616:27

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201615:36

Schengen and security fuels Brexit debate after Brussels attacks

British campaigners and politicians on both sides of the debate over the UK’s membership of the EU today were swift to cite the Brussels terror attacks as evidence to support their points of view on the Brexit referendum.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201615:13

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201614:48

Breaks most of the rules of news photography (black-and-white, out of focus, backs turned, facing the light) but strangely moving photo of the Mayors of Brussels and Paris today

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201614:19

Commission reminds of its proposals on security

The Commission just published a Q&A on the implementation of the European Agenda on Security

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1062_en.htm

Speaking to the press today following the College meeting, Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos deplored that member states were too slow in implementing very basic requirements and basically agreed it was time for naming and shaming.

“We absolutely need more information sharing. Our systems need to talk to each other. Member states need to trust each other. That’s when the Commission has proposed from the outset in its Agenda for security”, he said.

“Schengen is not the problem. But we cannot have a secure area of internal free movement without better control of our external borders. That’s why we propose systematic checks for all those who entered, but also the European border and coast guard”, Avramopoulos said.

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201614:13

It means something

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201614:04

More from Fred Simon. It’s Easter holidays and many lived through the same experience.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201614:00
Matthew Tempest 23/03/201613:59

EurActiv.com’s James Crisp spoke of Brussels’ defiance with his hometown broadcaster in Manchester.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201613:50

Mopping up a few details from the midday press conference at the EU Commission 1. Three EU Commission employees injured.

2. Access to EU buildings will be “more tightly controlled.”

3. A third of staff are working from home.

4. The DG Agriculture HQ is being examined for structural flaws after the metro blast beneath its foundations, and is currently closed.

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201613:45

Commission not sure how many crises it is faced with

Speaking to the press today following the College meeting, Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was faced with two crises – the migrant crisis and the security crisis.

“Right now, we are at the peak of two crises – security and migration. And while they overlap in timing, they should not be confused. Those people who arrive at our shores are precisely fleeing the same terror that struck us”, he said.

“If now it’s not the time to step up cooperation, then I don’t know when it is. It’s beyond time to get serious about security. Because safety is also one of the fundamental rights of our citizens”, he added.

Beside him was Vice President Kristalina Georgieva. Answering a question, she also said that the EU was confronted with two crises. But to the migrant crisis she added the economic crisis, which is a sequel of the Eurozone crisis.

“It is not one crisis, there are two crises we are dealing with, the second one being the still not entirely coming back to strength European economy”, she said.

James Crisp 23/03/201613:20

James Crisp 23/03/201613:14

James Crisp 23/03/201613:06

Samuel Morgan 23/03/201613:02

Germany reacts to Brussels attacks

Europe has widely denounced the attacks carried out in Brussels yesterday (22 March). EurActiv Germany reports on Berlin’s reaction to the terrorist bombings.

EurActiv.com

James Crisp 23/03/201612:48

AFP reports on the minute’s silence

Belgians observed a minute of silence at noon on Wednesday in memory of the victims of the Brussels airport and metro bombings, the country’s worst-ever terror attacks.

Defiant applause broke out after the symbolic display of solidarity from a large crowd at the central Place de la Bourse, where mourners have been holding a vigil since Tuesday evening.

There was also a large crowd at the headquarters of the European Union where Belgium’s King Philippe and his wife joined officials led by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Long live Belgium”, followed by “Brussels above all” chanted the crowd at Place de La Bourse, which has been decked out with flags and flowers by mourners.

James Crisp 23/03/201612:45

James Crisp 23/03/201612:45

James Crisp 23/03/201612:44

James Crisp 23/03/201612:44

James Crisp 23/03/201612:43

James Crisp 23/03/201612:43

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201611:46

Prominent MEP from EPP says maybe time for international institutions to consider leaving Brussels.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201611:02

Unconfirmed report from Belgian tabloid DH that the surviving airport suspect has been arrested.

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:55

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:19

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:19

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201610:17

French PM: 'Urgent' need to bolster EU external border controls

France’s prime minister on Wednesday said there was an “urgent” need to tighten controls on the European Union’s borders after bombings in Brussels that left around 30 dead and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:12

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:12

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201610:03

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201609:58

The EU Commission’s daily midday briefing will begin with a minute’s silence. Then a briefing on today’s weekly College of Commissioners (cabinet meeting, basically), before a 2pm press conference between Jean-Claude Juncker and French PM Manuel Valls.

Considering the likely security queues, journalists might be well advised to get there early to not interrupt the moment of remembrance.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201609:55

Europe’s best-selling newspaper doesn’t mince its words…(“Our Message to the Killers”)

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:54

Will the Euro2016 in France be “played behind closed doors”?

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:46

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:39

The identification of the Brussels attacks victims takes a very long time. First data here:

http://www.lavenir.net/cnt/dmf20160323_00799541/attentats-de-bruxelles-les-premieres-victimes-identifiees

http://www.rtl.be/info/belgique/faits-divers/attentats-a-bruxelles-les-premieres-victimes-identifiees-804413.aspx

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:32

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:28

The two suicide bombers who carried out the attacks in Brussels airport were brothers Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, Brussels residents known to the police for crime, the RTBF public broadcaster said, quoting an unnamed source.

Khalid, under a false name, had rented the flat in the Forest borough of the Belgian capital where police killed a gunman in a raid last week, RTBF said.

Investigators found after that raid an Islamic State flag, an assault rifle, detonators and a fingerprint of Paris attacks prime suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested three days later.

Both brothers have a criminal records, but have not been linked by the police to terrorism until now, RTBF said.

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:26

The Brussels airport attacker still at large is Najim Laachraoui, 25, a man already sought by the police since Monday, Belgian newspaper DH said.

Laachraoui’s DNA has been found in houses used by the Paris attackers last year, prosecutors said on Monday, and he had traveled to Hungary in September with Paris attacks prime suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201609:24

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said today that there was an “urgent” need to tighten controls on the European Union’s borders after bombings in Brussels that left around 30 dead and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen the external borders of the European Union,” Valls told French radio, adding that heightened vigilance was required to stop people crossing into Europe with false passports, as Islamic State has “stolen a large number of passports in Syria.”

France has led the calls for adopting the Passenger Name Record (PNR) system first mooted in 2010, which would cover all international and internal EU flights while providing safeguards on access to and use of the data collected.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201608:54

According to TheLocal’s Swedish edition, four Swedes are missing after the Brussels attacks.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201608:44

The “new normal” in Brussels? Well, for the next few days at least…

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201608:14

Belgian media RTBF are identifying the two suicide bombers pictured at Brussels airport as brothers Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, citing police sources.

Khalid apparently rented the apartment under a false name in Forest, where last week’s initial shootout took place.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:45

Stratfor, the global intelligence company, have written an op-ed for EurActiv on the likely shake-out from yesterday – and it’s bad news for Brexit, civil liberties, EU-Turkey relations and the continued rise of the far-right and populist-right.

Brussels attacks tear at the fabric of the European Union

Among other negative consequences for the EU, political parties and groups that want the United Kingdom to leave the Union could use the recent terrorist attacks to justify greater isolation from the continent, writes Stratfor, the global intelligence company.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 23/03/201607:31

EU ministers will meet at Belgium’s request to discuss the Brussels terrorist attacks, the Dutch justice minister said on Twitter.

It is possible the meeting will take place on Thursday morning, Ard van der Steur said. The Netherlands, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, will organise the event.

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:28

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:27

Grieving Brussels holds vigil at historic city square

“Brussels I love you,” says the message written in chalk on a historic city square, a place for raucous celebration that has become a scene of grief after Belgium’s worst terror attack.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:25

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:23

Good forward-looking policy stories on aftermath of attacks, and the EU, from overnight, in case you missed them.

Jorge Valero on possible EU measures and meetings on airport security

EU authorities to discuss 'Moscow model' to protect airports

National experts will consider lessons learnt from terrorist attacks in Moscow and in Madrid in a meeting on 11 April to improve security at the airports and mass public transportation systems in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, EU officials told Euractiv.com.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201607:00

Huge manhunt underway after ISIS kills 35 in Brussels bombings

Belgium pressed a huge manhunt today (23 March) after Islamic State bombers attacked Brussels airport and a metro train, killing around 35 people and wounding hundreds as jihadists once again struck at the heart of Europe.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 23/03/201606:59

And Daniela Vincenti on Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s call for a “common security and defence structure”

Italy calls for common European defence after Brussels attacks

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called Tuesday for a “European pact for freedom and security” following the attacks in Brussels claimed by the Islamic State group that killed around 35 people.

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201622:24

Brussels holds vigil at Place de la Bourse

Wrapped in the national flag and carrying candles and flowers, Belgians flocked by the hundreds by nightfall to the Place de la Bourse in the ancient heart of the city to mourn the dead. A lone musician played a cello as a mourner waved a banner reading “United against hate” and another message scrawled on the ground said: “Christians + Muslims + Jews = humanity”, Reuters reported. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel too came after dark and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also paid homage to the dead. “Tonight I am Belgian,” an emotional Juncker said.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201621:47

Belgium’s interior minister told Belgian TV that authorities knew that extremist acts were being prepared in different European countries, including Belgium, but that they were surprised by the scale of the attacks in Brussels.

Jan Jambon told RTL TV: “It was always possible that more attacks could happen but we never could have imagined something of this scale.”

Prosecutors say it’s not possible at this stage to establish any links between the Brussels attacks and those in Paris on Nov. 13 in which 130 people were killed.

The Brussels airport attackers “came in a taxi with their suitcases, their bombs were in their bags,” local mayor says.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201621:12

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201620:15

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201619:02

EU authorities to discuss 'Moscow model' to protect airports

National experts will consider lessons learnt from terrorist attacks in Moscow and in Madrid in a meeting on 11 April to improve security at the airports and mass public transportation systems in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, EU officials told Euractiv.com.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201618:45

Italy calls for common European defence after Brussels attacks

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called Tuesday for a “European pact for freedom and security” following the attacks in Brussels claimed by the Islamic State group that killed around 35 people.

EurActiv.com

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201618:43

Tales of carnage, confusion and courage emerge after Brussels attacks

The terrorist attacks in Brussels brought tales of carnage, confusion and courage, as the Belgian capital struggled to cope with the unfolding tragedy that left at least 34 dead.

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201618:05

Irina Bokova, the first woman to head the UN’s culture body UNESCO, and the first leader from the ex-Soviet bloc when she was elected in 2009, stresses the need for education and opportunities to fight terrorism.

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201618:04

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201618:03

RTL TV confirms reports that the attack in the metro at the Maelbeek station was caused by a suicide bomber.

Around 35 people were killed and 200 wounded when two explosions rip through the check-in hall at the main Brussels airport and a third hits a train at Maalbeek metro station, near the European Union’s headquarters.

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201617:59

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201617:57

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201617:37

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201617:26

A third device found at Brussels Airport has been destroyed, according to Reuters. The airport will be closed on Wednesday, the CEO announces.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201617:21

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201617:09

Matthew Tempest 22/03/201616:56

Joint statement just out from the 28 EU heads of government, condemning “hatred, violent extremism and terrorism” and pledging solidarity with Belgium.

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/03/22-joint-statement-hosg/?utm_source=dsms-auto&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Joint+statement+of+the+EU+Heads+of+State+or+Government+and+the+leaders+of+the+EU+institutions+on+the+terrorist+attacks+in+Brussels

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201616:55

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201616:32

First pictures have emerged of the terrorists at Brussels Airport this morning. Two appeared on video surveillance footage wearing one glove each, apparently to mask a detonator.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201616:19

Belgium government asks journalists not to reveal elements of the the terrorist attacks investigation

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201616:17

German Foreign Minister: Europe stands united. Belgium is not alone.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201616:12

Questions are being raised as to whether the attack on Maelbeek Metro station were directed at the EU institutions. The fact that Maelbeek station is located in the European disctrict certainly helped attract considerable media attention. EurActiv reporter Henriette Jacobsen has the story.

Was Brussels' metro blast targeting EU?

EU officials on Tuesday (22 March) side-stepped questions from the media on whether European Union institutions were the likely targets of the attacks in Brussels.

EurActiv.com

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201616:12

Belgian government declares 3-day national mourning. The 28 EU flags at the Berlaymont building already fly at half-mast.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201616:06

Messages of solidarity continue to pour in. British flag at half mast in Westminster.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201615:55

Our colleague Evan Lamos was in the metro between Arts-Loi and Maelbeek stations this morning when the explosion happened.

Evan is Multimedia Director at EurActiv.com and he usually interviews people. But roles were reversed this morning as he ended up being interviewed himself by dozens of international media for holding a live Tweeter feed from the metro just after the explosion occurred.

Together with other passengers, he was evacuated on the tracks and managed to get off at Arts-Loi station. He tells his story for EurActiv.

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EurActiv's Evan Lamos: I was in the metro between Maelbeek and Arts-Loi when the explosion happened

Our colleague Evan Lamos was in the metro between Arts-Loi and Maelbeek stations this morning when the explosion happened.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201615:25

The anti-European UK Independence Party (UKIP) is under fire for exploiting the Brussels attacks for political purposes.

UKIP under fire for blaming Brussels attacks on 'lax' Schengen border system

Shortly after two explosions were confirmed at the Zaventem Airport in Brussels, the British far-right party UKIP used the incident to send a press release blaming the attacks on the Schengen passport-free travel zone and “lax border controls” in Europe.

EurActiv.com

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201615:07

Heightened security measures in the European Parliament Following the terrorist attacks and the announced level 4 terrorist alert, the European Parliament has heightened security measures.

“I have decided, in close cooperation with the other Institutions, to raise the alert level in the European Parliament in Brussels to Orange,” Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said in a note sent to personnel and MEPs.

“Given the exceptional circumstances, I have decided to request staff to telework tomorrow, Wednesday 23 March 2016, and to close all Parliament buildings in Brussels with the exception of the Altiero SPINELLI building accessible via the Simone Veil entrance, which will be further secured through systematic checks of ID documents and bags,” the note reads.

The Parliament suspended all missions, meetings and visits scheduled today and tomorrow, 23 March 2016.

The European schools (for possible holiday activities), garderies and crèches have been asked to follow Belgian authorities’ instructions to keep children within the schools and crèche campuses.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201614:52

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201614:50

The European quarter is now entirely locked down. Our reporter James Crisp has a few pictures from the Rue de la Loi tunnels outside of the Commission’s Berlaymont building. All closed to traffic.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:38

Belgian authorities partly evacuate nuclear power plants at Doel and Thiange.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:33

Death toll update

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:27

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:27
Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:17

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:16

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201614:14

The European Peoples’ Party (EPP) says “We will not let anybody undermine our freedom and our values in Europe” http://news.epp.eu/zYtTsz

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201613:53

More detail have emerged about the security measures taken in EU institutions’ buildings. Georgi Gotev reports:

The difference between “Yellow” and “Orange” alert is that controls for entering Commission buildings are stricter, the garage is closed and the parking for visitors is unavailable.

But more importantly, visitors cannot access the Commission buildings, as only personnel with badges are authorised. This includes journalists with badges issued by the Commission.

For the first time, Commission officials are not allowed to leave the building. This disrupted Journalists who attended the midday briefing who were prevented to leave for several minutes. In fact, the Berlaymont is almost empty and so is the restaurant, which is usually packed with people at this time of the day.

EU officials said the Commission evacuated the building hosting the services of the Agriculture Directorate General, situated opposite the Malbeek metro station. In case of “Red” alert, any building considered under threat is evacuated.

Only one Commission official has been injured, in the Malbeek metro attack. But the information could not be confirmed by EU officials. Instructions have been given to the personnel to “check around” if all colleagues are safe.

The Commission will later today instruct the personnel whether to stay at home and work remotely or come to work as usual.

The Commission will hold its weekly College meeting as planned. The main issue on the table is changes to the European VAT system, described by the Eurosceptic media as the “tampon tax” issue.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201613:50

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201613:37

Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, issued the following statement:

“I am horrified by the despicable and cowardly attacks which took place in Brussels today. My thoughts go out first and foremost to the victims and the wounded, as well as their families and friends.

These acts anger and sadden me at the same time. They are born from barbarism and hatred which do justice to nothing and no one.

Brussels, like other cities hit by such terrorist attacks, will stand strong, and the European institutions hosted so generously by the Brussels institutions and its inhabitants will do likewise.

In the name of the European Parliament I have expressed to the Belgian Prime Minister my compassion and solidarity towards the Belgian people.”

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201613:32

One of our colleagues, Maxime Sattonnay, received this video taken this morning by a friend who was at Zaventem Airport. We checked before publishing so no upsetting images there but still quite impressive footage from the scene after the explosions.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201613:28

REUTERS reports: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday’s blasts in Brussels marked a “very sad day” for Europe, saying on a visit to Jordan it was now suffering like the Middle East. “It is… a very sad day for Europe as Europe and its capital is suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day,” she said tearfully at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. She said it was already clear that the blasts at Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters were attacks that resulted from radicalisation, and called for European and Middle Eastern leaders to work together to tackle the scourge.

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201612:49

Our reporter James Crisp reports:

At the local EXKI café on Rue Froissart, in the heart of the European quarter of Brussels, the eight-strong team of staff had been told they couldn’t leave.

They had begun work at 6:30AM as usual but, after the explosions at the nearby Maelbeek metro station, found themselves in the centre of the police cordon.

Bravely, they continued to serve their normal clientele of EU officials as the drama unfolded.

One young waitress, who asked not to be named, said that the workers were scared when they heard about the first blast at Brussels International Airport.

They became more scared when they heard the second blast.

“It’s not good that we can’t leave. We have to continue working, we have no choice,” the waitress said. “It’s scary because this is the area we work in and all the EU institutions are around us.”

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201612:37

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel addressed a press conference starting by saying “what we feared has happened”. He called the attacks “blind, violent and cowardly” acts.

He appealed for calm and solidarity: “We must face this challenge in solidarity, united, together.” The Prime minister confirmed that dozens of people were killed and wounded. The public prosecutor pursued by saying that one of the explosion at Zaventem airport was perpetrated by a suicide bomber.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201612:27

Not much filtered from the European Commission’s daily press briefing, which was hosted as usual at 12.00 noon by spokesperson Margiritis Schinas.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had a phone conversation with French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, currently holding the six-month rotating EU Presidency, Schinas said. But he wouldn’t elaborate on the substance of the discussion, saying it was only normal that leaders speak to each other on such occasions.

As regards the security measures taken by EU institutions, Schinas confirmed the alert level was raised from “Yellow” to “Orange” but remarked that this was “not the top-level” alert for EU buildings, which also has a “Red” level.

“We continue to work calmly and effectively. We feel safe and we do our work,” Schinas said in response to a question on security by EurActiv reporter Jorge Valero. “Security concerns are with the Belgian authorities,” he stressed.

The weekly meeting of the 28-strong College of Commissioners will take place as usual tomorrow, Schinas concluded. There will be a read-out from the meeting.

Flags are being put at half-mast as of across all Commission buildings now.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201611:40

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201611:39

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201611:36

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201611:35

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:28

Commission President –

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:27

Council President condemns terror attacks

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:19

Council cancelled all meetings

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:17

The death toll –

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:16

Former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt –

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201611:08

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201611:08

EU is under attack

I can notice in the reactions of many personalities, especially from Central and Eastern Europe and even Ukraine, that today’s Brussels blasts are seen as a symbolic attack on the EU. One more, because the EU in the latest years is undergoing too many crises – Eurozone crisis, Ukraine crisis, Greek crisis, refugee crisis. So some people wonder if they are not organised as well.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201611:06

Our video reporter Evan Lamos shot this with his mobile as he was being evacuated from the Brussels Metro this morning. This was between Arts-Loi and Maelbeek stations (not Schuman and Maelbeek as he previously reported).

Daniela Vincenti 22/03/201611:00

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:56

21 dead at Zaventem airport, according to some reports.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:52

So there will be a European Commission midday press briefing after all. At 12.00 am as usual.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:49

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201610:49

Official security advice is: stay where you are, don’t call because networks are saturated and use texting or social media instead.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201610:48

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:48

Belgian prosecutor confirmed the Airport blast is a suicide attack

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201610:40

European Parliament President Martin Schulz condemns “heinous attacks”.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201610:22

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has reacted to the attacks in Brussels according to his party, the Social Democrats: “This is an attack on democratic Europe. We will never accept that terrorists attack our open societies.”

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:21

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:20

No Commission midday briefing today, maximum alert

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:19

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:15

Our reporter Jorge Valero tweeted a photo of streets near the Maelbeek Metro station being cordoned off.

Joel Schalit 22/03/201610:12

According to i24, flights to Israel have now been resumed.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:11

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:08

France advises its nationals to refrain from travel in Belgium

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201610:03

Evan is back in the office

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:58

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:53

My colleague Evan Lamos who was in the metro at Malbeek just arrived at the Schuman metro station by walking on the tracks

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:51

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:49

The area between Maelbeek Metro station, Arts-Loi and Schuman is now being closed. Traffic on rue de la Loi outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings is being diverted to side streets.

Joel Schalit 22/03/201609:44

Another Metro station attack, near the US embassy, is now being reported.

Joel Schalit 22/03/201609:38

Media misreporting that a bombing in Molenbeek has taken place, confusing it with the Maelbeek metro station. Metro system shut down for the city.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:37

Lockdown in Brussels. Maximum alert. Better stay indoors. Impossible to speak by GSM.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:34

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:33

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:31

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:29

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:28

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:23

Evan Lamos, a EurActiv colleague who is currently on the Metro between Schuman and Maelbeek stations reports having felt a blast and hearing “soft thudding in the distance”. “My ears popped shortly after leaving Schuman station,” he writes. Possible explosion at Maelbeek.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201609:23

Joel Schalit 22/03/201609:23

11 are now reported dead and 20 wounded, according to the latest updates.

Henriette Jacobsen 22/03/201609:22

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:21

The Brussels Metro service is being shut down. People are being evacuated.

Joel Schalit 22/03/201609:20

New data coming from the fire department confirm public reports of multiple fatal casualties.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:18

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:16

Joel Schalit 22/03/201609:16

Only one fatal casualty has so far been confirmed by police. However, witnesses say that are multiple. Arabic is reported to have been shouted prior to the explosion.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:16

There are obviously no indications at this stage as regards the perpetrators of the attack. But the capture of Salah Abdeslam last Friday in Brussels will probably have something to do with it.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:15

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:13

I asked the Commission what security measures it will envisage. Security is under the portfolio of Vice President Kristalina Georgieva. Coordination works like this: the Belgian authorities need to inform the Commission (and EU institutions) of their assessment of the situation. This apparently hasn’t happened yet. A meeting between Belgian police and Commission will take place shortly.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:07

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:07

One witness cited by local media say he’s seen “bodies lifted into the air and falling down heavily onto the ground”. 11 people dead according to Flemish broadcaster VTM.

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:06

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:06

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:05

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:04

Georgi Gotev 22/03/201609:04

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:03

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:00

Several casualties are confirmed by the Belgian press. Exact number unknown but judging by the state of the entry hall, it could be bad.

Frédéric Simon 22/03/201609:00

Two explosions were heard this morning at Brussels Zaventem Airport. EurActiv gives up to the minute updates on the latest developments and implications at European level.