The Brussels casualty count from terrorist attacks in the morning of March 3 came to at least 30 people dead and about 230 more wounded. The two explosions at Brussels airport in Zaventem and one in the Metro station of Maelbeek, that awakened Belgians to a grisly spectacle, continue to have a ripple effect worldwide.
The Guardian published a report by the Isis-affiliated news agency AMAQ stating that Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks resulting in the casualty numbers. However, Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was “too early to make a direct connection between the attacks in Paris [in November] and today’s attacks.”
For its part, ISIS identified with all the perpetrators of the carnage at Brussels. Along with the acknowledgement, the caliphate propagandists accused Belgium of “participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.” Belgian warplanes flew 796 sorties and launched 163 airstrikes over Iraq from September 2014 to July 2015, inflicting much casualty, as part of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, and provided a justification for jihadist reprisal.
Three men in a CCTV photo captured within the Brussels airport have been fingered as suspects in the terrorist operation. Van Leuw told reporters at a press briefing that two black-clad men seen pushing luggage trolleys through Zaventem airport in the CCTV photo released by police “very likely committed a suicide attack” to net a high casualty return. He also confirmed that the third man in the CCTV footage, dressed in white, was the target of a manhunt.
Belgian police have been circulating a notice that includes a photograph of a suspect “wanted (for) terrorism” and asks the public, “Who recognizes this man?” The man in question is one of three shown in surveillance images pushing Brussels airport luggage carts alongside each other. Two of them “probably carried out suicide attacks” resulting in the gruesome casualty report, Van Leeuw estimates, while the third — the one in light clothing, glasses and a hat — “is actively being searched for.”
Several explosions were heard at the Brussels airport after the initial two blasts, but these were controlled detonations by security forces, Van Leeuw said, suggesting the possibility of more controlled detonations of suspect packages. The international airport northeast of Brussels saw more than 23 million passengers go through its corridors in 2015, making it the 21st busiest airport in Europe, a density with heavy casualty potential.
According to CNBC, all flights and trains to the airport were suspended, the premises fully evacuated. Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Feist of Brussels Airport Company, said that the airport will remain closed on Wednesday, as casualty stress winds down.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel issued the following statement in both French and Flemish.
“It is a common fight, it is a fight without borders. Belgium is very mobilised to succeed in the face of this tragic event, which has struck us in our hearts…We are determined to defend our freedom.”
According to People, Michel also announced the deployment of military reinforcements as well as additional restrictions on public transport. Likewise, French and Dutch authorities are beefing up muscle at their borders with Belgium, banking on maximum impact for minimum casualty.
With three days of national mourning to be observed, Michel stressed that Belgium wants to return to a normal life as soon as possible. He added that Liberty has been struck at its heart, Brussels, as it was in Paris recently, and was in London and Madrid in the recent past. The casualty count is in everyone’s consciousness.
Witnesses are currently being sought and questioned about the Brussels attacks, and several raids are being conducted across Belgium. But authorities are not giving out details of active operations with casualty prevention in mind.
In a CNN report, the Belgian prosecutor’s office has confirmed that raids were conducted in Schaarbeek, a northern suburb of Brussels with some unexpected results. The searches led to the discovery of an explosive device containing nails capable of high-casualty impact. Chemical products were also discovered along with an Islamic State flag.
[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]