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World leaders condemn attacks on Brussels

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel has called the attackers 'blind and cowardly'.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. Picture: Laurie Dieffembacq / Belga / AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - During a televised press conference this afternoon, Belgium's Prime Minister, Charles Michel, labelled the attackers behind today's deadly blasts in Brussels "blind and cowardly".

A suicide bomber blew himself up at Brussels airport killing several people and a further blast tore through a rush-hour Metro train in the capital shortly afterwards, claiming nearly a dozen lives, according to public broadcaster VRT.

Michel says government is now deploying 225 extra troops to Brussels and the country has 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."

WATCH: Several injured in Brussels attacks

At the same time, officials in New York, France, Germany and in Britain have increased police visibility at airports and train stations, in the wake of the bombings.

Countries like South Africa have been 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, have condemned the attacks.

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

He says he's now chairing an emergency meeting to discuss the events and the UK will do everything possible to help Belgium.

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 has sent his condolences to the families of the victims and said all measures must be taken to ensure the safety of citizens.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but supporters of the Islamic State have praised the blasts on social media.

Oil prices have also seesawed this afternoon, rattled by investor nervousness after the deadly blasts prompted a flight towards so-called safe-haven assets such as gold.

ALERT

Meanwhile, security at transport hubs across Europe is being stepped up significantly following the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Senior British ministers will consider raising the threat level to its maximum later today once they have shared the latest intelligence from the security services. The mayor of London says there's no imminent threat of attack to Londoners, but these bomb blasts will make Europeans anxious.

In France, an extra 1,600 police are being deployed.

The Eurostar train service connecting London to Paris and Brussels has been suspended in Belgium, and security at airports has been boosted significantly.

BRUSSELS ON LOCKDOWN

Residents of Brussels have been warned to remain indoors.

Yannick Van Winkel, who works at the Council of the EU, has told Eyewitness News the building where he works is on lockdown.

Van Winkel says he arrived at the station a short while before the explosion.

"There was smoke coming out of the Metro station and everybody was pretty scared. For now, I am safe inside the office."

He says the phone lines are also down in Brussels.

"The whole of Brussels has a problem with mobile phones and everything else because it's being overused by everyone."

The blasts occurred four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Belgian police had been on alert for any reprisal action.

WATCH: Witness speaks about explosions in Brussels.

SOUTH AFRICAN TIES

Meanwhile, The International Relations Department says all employees at the South African Embassy in Belgium have been accounted for.

All flights from South Africa into Brussels have been cancelled and it's understood connecting flights are also affected.

Spokesperson Nelson Kgwete says government will continue working with officials on the ground.

"All of our staff at the South African Embassy in Belgium have been accounted for and they are were not affected by the attacks this morning. We are closely monitoring any developments and should there be any, the embassy will report to Pretoria."

At the same time, South African Ndivhuho Tshikovhi is currently doing his PhD at a university in Brussels and says all students were evacuated from the institution.

"They started telling us to leave the university and that everyone should leave. There were a lot of police yesterday who came to patrol the university as well. They just checked the student cards and left."

Follow the Eyewitness News live blog for all the latest developments on this story.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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