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Isis claims responsibility for deadly attacks on Brussels

Isis says it’s targeting Brussels because of its involvement in an international coalition against it.

 A man lights a candle at a makeshift memorial at Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) following attacks in Brussels on 22 March, 2016. Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights and European railways froze links with Brussels after a series of bomb blasts killed around 35 people in the city's airport and a metro train, sparking a broad security response. Picture: AFP.
Brussels,Brussels explosions,Brussels Airport
World

JOHANNESBURG – Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for Brussels blasts in a statement.

suicide bomber detonated explosives at the Brussels Airport this morning and a short while later there was a separate bombing at a subway.

Local media is reporting the combined death toll is now at over 30, while dozens of injured people have been rushed to hospital.

Over 130 people are believed to have been injured in the blasts.

The extremist group released a statement saying Islamic fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices targeting the airport and central metro station. 

The group says it’s targeting Brussels because of its involvement in an international coalition against Isis, describing the suicide bomber as a martyrdom bomber. 

Salah Abdeslam, suspected Paris attacks organiser, captured in Brussels.

Terrorist analyst Paul Cruishank says it must be investigated whether the attacks were linked to the arrest of the mastermind behind the Paris mastermind Salah Abdesalam. 

“Isis has now claimed responsibility for the attack. They haven’t offered proof yet but they say they carry it out in revenge against Belgium for airstrikes against Isis in Iraq. The assumption is that the broader network that carried out the Paris attacks was also responsible for today’s attacks.”  

THE SUSPECTS

Belgian media has published a security camera picture of three men police suspect of carrying out the bombings.

The still photograph shows three young men with dark hair, pushing laden luggage trolleys.

Their identities are not yet known.

Meanwhile, Belgium has announced Brussels Airport will remain closed tomorrow. 

Parents being interviewed for information told authorities they knew that bombs had been detonated but their children thought the blasts were fireworks.
 
A man says the airport explosions were detonated in quick succession.

“The first thought was 'it’s an attack'. Everyone was prepared somehow ... they were mentally prepared for that.”

LISTEN: Brussels Bomb Blasts most likely to be blamed on Isis, says analyst.  

EU’S FEDERICA MOGHERINI BREAKS DOWN DURING PRESS BRIEFING

Earlier this evening, European Union foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini cut short a news conference in Jordan after breaking down in tears while talking about the attacks.

WATCH: Raw video from inside the airport moments after the explosion.

According to AFP, Mogherini said it was already clear that the blasts were attacks that resulted from radicalisation, and called for European and Middle Eastern leaders to work together to tackle the scourge.
 
Major cities across Europe are bolstering their security at airports and train stations.

Intelligence agencies are also reviewing terror alert levels.

New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio says there is no credible or specific threat to the Big Apple but security measures have been stepped up at subways.

COPS FIND UNEXPLODED BOMB BELT

Earlier this afternoon, police discovered an unexploded bomb belt on the scene of the attack on the Brussels airport.

Local news agency VTM reported that the bomb squad arrived to detonate the explosive.
 
It was also investigating a suspect package found at the airport but no further information was been provided.

Later, the provincial governor confirmed a fourth bomb was discovered at the airport which was desroyed by authorities.

Belgium's nuclear plan was also evacuated.
 
CNN's Nick Robinson said, “They have set up a hotline and it’s available on the Belgian government’s website so if anyone is worried about their loved ones they can check that. The Dutch Red Cross has also set up a website for Dutch speakers for people to check in to say they are safe, as has Facebook.”

LEADERS CONDEMN ATTACKS

Meanwhile, during a televised press conference, Belgium’s Prime Minister, Charles Michel, labelled the attackers as “blind and cowardly”.

Michel said government was deploying 225 extra troops to Brussels and the country raised its terror alert to the highest level.

“This means that there will be extra security measures. The border controls will be increased and there will also be more restrictions on public transport.”

In the wake of the attacks, US President Barack Obama says his nation stands together with Brussels, Nato and the European union.
 
He's called for unity in the wake of the deadly terror attacks describing them as outrageous.

Obama is currently speaking in Cuba on the final day of his historic trip in Havana.


A visual representation of the Brussels terrorist attacks. Infographic: AFP.

Countries like South Africa
were advised to implement intelligence and counter-terrorism operations to keep track of any radicalisation happening within their borders.

Jeremy Eastman of crisis management assistance company Red24 says monitoring the threat of such attacks can be difficult.

"It’s extremely difficult... unless we shut down all borders and restrict all movement. There is still no guarantee that something like this won’t happen.  The individuals don’t have to be moving across borders, they might already be in countries."

World leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, also condemned the attacks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he's shocked and concerned by the attacks.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the Belgian people and we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these attacks on innocent people.”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven described the blasts as “an attack against European democracy”, while his Danish counterpart, Lars Rasmussen, labelled them a “despicable act”.

French President Francois Hollande sent his condolences to the families of the victims and said all measures must be taken to ensure the safety of citizens.

WATCH: Brussels Bombings: Three explosions leave over 30 dead

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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