34 killed, 190 injured in terrorist attacks in Brussels

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Explosions ripped through the Brussels Airport and a subway station early Tuesday, killing at least 34 people and severely injuring dozens of others.

The two explosions at the airport happened in the departure hall during the morning rush hour as hundreds of passengers were trying to check in, according to an airport spokesperson. Officials say at least 11 people were killed and 81 were injured in those explosions.

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Explosions at airport and subway station in Brussels
At least 34 killed, dozens severely injured
Belgian officials says explosions were terrorist attacks
Islamic State group claims responsibility for attacks
Belgium terror alert level raised to maximum

Not long after, a blast also rocked the Maelbeek Metro station near the European Union headquarters.

Brussels mayor says at least 20 people died in that explosion and 106 were injured.

Alexandre Brans, 32, who was wiping blood from his face, said: “The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”

Islamic State group claims responsibility for attacks
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels, saying its extremists opened fire in the airport and “several of them” detonated suicide belts.

The posting in the group’s Amaq news agency said another suicide attacker detonated in the metro.

The posting claimed the attack was in response to Belgium’s support of the international coalition arrayed against it.

An Iraqi intelligence official says sources in the Syrian city of Raqqa have told them that the Islamic State group has been planning terrorist attacks in Europe for two months which would “target airports and train stations.”

The official tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iraqi officials told European countries about the plans “but Brussels was not part of the plans” at the time.

He says IS militants changed the operation and moved it to Brussels “because of the detention of Salah Abdeslam” — the Paris attacks suspect arrested Friday in Brussels.

Another senior Iraqi intelligence official said “Daesh (IS) was behind this operation and it was planned in Raqqa two months ago and there are three suicide attackers who will carry out another attack.”

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity since the investigation was ongoing.

Police search for suspects
A Belgian prosecutor says police raids are happening around the country after two men “probably” staged suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and a third fled.

Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Tuesday that the third suspect is actively being sought by police.

A man wearing a thick light-colored jacket with a black hat and glasses is suspected of committing the attack at Zaventem airport on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said the country will tighten security at its borders. He declared three days of national mourning after what he says were probably the most tragic attacks the country has seen in peacetime.

Witnesses describe airport explosion

“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” said passenger Zach Mouzoun. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere.”

“We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene.”

Anthony Deloos, an employee of services company Swissport, said the first explosion took place near a counter where customers pay for overweight baggage. He and colleague said second blast was near the Starbucks.

“Twenty meters (yards) from us we heard a big explosion,” and shredded paper was flying through the air, Deloos said. He first thought a billboard had fallen down, but a colleague told him to run.

“I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe,” he said.

Americans injured in attacks
The U.S. military says one American service member and his family were injured in the attacks.

U.S. European Command says it will not release details of the injuries or the number of family members involved, due to privacy concerns. The command says that it is continuing to confirm the safety of U.S. military personnel and families in the region, including those who may be there on vacation or official travel.

The injuries bring the total to at least four Americans who were hurt in the explosions that ripped through the Brussels Airport and a metro station Tuesday. Mormon church officials said three missionaries from Utah were seriously injured in the airport attack and have been hospitalized.

Brussels shuts down transportation, raises terror threat level
Authorities in Brussels shut down transportation in the wake of the explosions. Everyone in the city was told to remain where they are.

Hours after the attacks, the lockdown was lifted and train stations began to reopen.

Peter Mertens of the Belgian crisis center said “the threat is still real and serious” of more attacks.

Hours after the explosions, police say a third bomb was found at the airport and deactivated.

The airport will remain closed at least through Wednesday, an official said.

Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to maximum.

U.S. Embassy tells Americans to stay where they are
The U.S. Embassy in Brussels recommended Tuesday morning that all Americans in Belgium stay where they are and avoid public transportation.

Explosions being called terror attacks

Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw is calling all three explosions in Brussels “terrorist attacks.”

Two of the explosions on Tuesday morning hit Brussels’ Zavantem airport and the third struck in the city’s Maelbeek metro station. Belgian media report that at least 13 are dead, and authorities are saying there are dead at both sites.

A U.S. official says security officials believe at least one suitcase bomb was detonated at Brussels Airport.

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