Massive security operation across Belgium after bloody terror attacks

(Roundup)

BRUSSELS, March 22 (KUNA) — Belgian police are conducting a massive manhunt across the nation to pursue terrorists linked to Tuesday terror attacks which left some 34 people dead and over 230 others injured.
In a raid in Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek, police and anti-terror forces founded a nail bomb, chemical substances and a flag of the so-called Islamic State, local media reported.
Police are also searching for a reported third suicide bomber whose bomb did not blow off.
A wave of bombing attacks, of which the IS claimed responsibility, rocked Brussels airport and a metro station early Tuesday killing over 34 people and wounding more than 230 others.
The deadly attacks prompted tougher security actions across Belgium and other European and Western countries.
Speaking to reporters following the attack, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced stricter controls on Belgium’s borders and that the terror threat level had been increased to level Four the highest level in Belgium.
Belgium has also ordered temporary shutdown to its embassy Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkish diplomatic source.
The pan-EU railway network, Eurostar announced that all of its trains between London and Brussels are currently cancelled following the terror attacks in Brussels.
Thalys trains which go to major cities in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are also not running their services between France and Brussels.
The terror assaults also triggered a tightened security measures in the major US cities.
In the US capital, Washington DC, authorities heightened its security posture across its transit systems.
DC’s Metro Transit Police Department stated that it is “closely monitoring events” in Brussels with its federal partners.
In New York, Police department announced an increase of its security presence throughout the State.
The NYPD said in a statement that they are closely monitoring the situation in Belgium and is in close contact with their international partners and with the FBI.
“Until we learn more, the department has deployed additional counterterrorism resources across the city including: the Counterterrorism Response Command (CRC), the Strategic Response Group (SRG), and Hercules Teams,” it added.
The teams have been deployed to crowded areas and transit locations around the city out of an abundance of caution to provide police presence and public reassurance as we closely follow the developing situation overseas.
Brussels offensives have also promoted world outrage and condemnation. Governments and leaders of countries from the four corners of the globe rushed to express solidarity with and support to the Belgian people and government.
His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was among the first leaders to condemn the heinous attack and express solidarity with victims and Belgian leaders.
In a cable to King Philippe of Belgium, His Highness the Amir extended condolences to relative of the victims of the two blasts that hit the Brussels international airport and Maalbeek metro station.
In his cable, His Highness the Amir sharply denounced such outrageous terrorist acts that targeted safe innocents and that violate all religions, human values and international conventions.
His Highness the Amir reiterated Kuwait’s position rejecting all forms and manifestations of terrorism, and its support for international efforts to fight terrorism and stop its finance sources, praying to Allah the Almighty to bless the victims’ souls with mercy and those injured swift recovery.
His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent the king of Belgium similar condolence cables.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry also voiced Kuwait’s sharp condemnation of “terrorist attacks” and Kuwait’s support for all measures taken by Belgium to protect its security and stability.
In Riyadh, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) strongly condemned Brussels terrorist attacks.
“This is a heinous crime that goes against moral, human and international laws,” GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashed Al-Zayani described the bomb explosions that rocked Brussels early Tuesday.
Al-Zayani reiterated his rejection to “terrorism” in all of its manifestations, stressing the importance of supporting all legal measures taken by Belgium against these crimes.

Meanwhile, European Union leaders described today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels as an assault “on our open democratic society.
“Our common European institutions are hosted in Brussels, thanks to the generosity of the government of Belgium and the Belgian people,” said the 28 EU Heads of State or Government and the leaders of the EU institutions in a joint statement.
“The European Union and its Member States stand firm with Belgium in solidarity and are determined to face this threat together with all necessary means,” they added.
“This latest attack only strengthens our resolve to defend the European values and tolerance from the attacks of the intolerant. We will be united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism,” added the statement.
Furthermore, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he is “appalled by the bombings this morning at Zavantem airport and the European district in Brussels.
“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence,” he said in a statement.
In New York, the United Nations strongly condemned the despicable attacks that struck the heart of Belgium and the center of the European Union.
Expressing solidarity with the people and Government of Belgium, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hoped in a statement that those responsible will be swiftly brought to justice.
The statement issued by his press office said Ban is confident that Belgium’s and Europe’s commitment to human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence “will continue to be the true and lasting response to the hatred and violence of which they became a victim today.” In a separate statement, the President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft reaffirmed the need for all States to combat by all means, in accordance with the UN Charter and other obligations under international law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
Lykketoft affirmed that acts of terrorism are unjustifiable regardless of their motivation and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes on of the most serious threats to international peace and security. “Acts of terrorism have no place in the modern world and only serve to strengthen the resolve of governments the world over to find and prosecute the individuals responsible,” he added.
For his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he is “deeply saddened by the attacks here in Brussels this morning. The heavy human toll is tragic.” “We all stand together with our Ally Belgium on this dark day. This is a cowardly attack. An attack on our values and on our open societies. Terrorism will not defeat democracy and take away our freedoms,” he said in a statement.
Stoltenberg said they decided to increase the alert state at NATO Headquarters and added that “we remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation very closely.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) sharply denounced the terrorist attacks, expressing unwavering support to Belgium in this “critical and painful circumstance”.
OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani also voiced the OIC rejection to these “terrorist acts” that violate the “sanctity of human life.” He called on world governments, international organizations and civil communities to work together to combat this heinous phenomenon which is detrimental to world peace and safety.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made calls to Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel Tuesday, and pledged their full support in defeating terrorism following multiple explosions in Brussels.
Obama “offered any assistance necessary in investigating these attacks and bringing those responsible to justice,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
“The world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality, race, or faith,” he said from Havana, where he is on a historic visit toward normalizing relations.
The world “can and will” defeat those who threaten safety, he added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned deadly bomb attacks in Brussels on Tuesday that killed at least 34 people and injured more than 200.
In a condolence message sent to Prime Minister Michel, Abe expressed his strong condemnation against these acts of terrorism and sympathy to all victims, according to the Foreign Ministry. Abe also voiced his solidarity to the government and the people of Belgium.
In Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his “deepest sympathy” to those affected by the deadly terrorist bombings in Brussels.
“His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to God’s mercy those who died and he prays for those who have lost relatives” a statement says.
“The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and imploring from God the gift of peace he entrusts on the bereaved families and the Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.” (end) ibi