Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital on Tuesday which killed at least 30 people, a news agency affiliated to the group said.
The coordinated assault triggered security alerts across Europe and drew global expressions of support, four days after Brussels police had captured the prime surviving suspect in Islamic State’s attacks on Paris last November.
A witness said he heard shouts in Arabic and shots shortly before two blasts struck a packed airport departure lounge at Brussels airport. The federal prosecutor said one of the explosions was probably triggered by a suicide bomber.
Belgian media published a security camera picture of three young men pushing laden luggage trolleys through the airport and reported that police suspected them of being the attackers. They said two were suspected of having blown themselves up while police were hunting the third.
The AMAQ news agency carried the claim of responsibility. “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels,” it said.
U.S. President Barack Obama led calls of support to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel after Brussels went into a state of virtual lock-down.
“We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism,” Obama told a news conference in Cuba. “We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”
Michel spoke at a Brussels news conference of a “black moment” for his country. “What we had feared has come to pass.”
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 and combat troops on the streets had been on alert for reprisal but the attacks took place in crowded areas where people and bags are not searched.