The city of Brussels, home to NATO and the European Commission, came under terrorist attack today. Attacks were carried out at Brussels’s Maalbeek metro station and soon after, two blasts ripped through the departure lounge of Zaventem airport. As of now the casualty figures indicate 34 are dead and 230 wounded, some in serious condition. The blasts came from suicide bombers.
Subsequently, through its propaganda website, ISIS claimed responsibility, posting the following: “Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station. The attacks resulted in more than 230 dead and wounded.”
Belgian officials raised the terror threat level, shut down all public transport in the Belgian capital and advised locals to stay indoors after the blasts. Belgian media VTM also reported evacuation of non-essential personnel from Tihange nuclear power plant, located about 85 kms east of Brussels. VTM also said there is no evidence the plant is currently under threat. The precautionary measure was undertaken ostensibly because Belgian authorities found what appeared to be video surveillance footage of a top Belgian nuclear official in the apartment of Mohamed Bakkali, who was arrested for alleged involvement in the Paris attacks in November of last year.
A heightened security was put in place in many cities across Europe and the United States, as well.
Expressing his deepest condolences to the Belgian people, Russian President Vladimir Putin “has strongly condemned these barbaric crimes” while assuring “the Belgian people of the Russians’ absolute solidarity with the Belgian people in these difficult hours,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today, Sputnik reported. “President Putin has already sent condolences to King Philippe of Belgium in connection with the death of civilians in a series of explosions in Brussels,” Peskov told reporters.
“As more and more time and lives are lost, people are beginning to understand that this policy of double standards in evaluating terrorist activities is a dead-end policy,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said soon after reports trickled in of the attacks in Brussels, The BRICS Post reported. “They can’t support terrorists in one part of the globe and not expect them to appear in others.”
Pointing at NATO for neglecting defense of its own backyard and taking a swipe at NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the head of Russia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Alexey Pushkov, tweeted that the NATO chief has allowed “people to blow themselves up from right under his nose” while “NATO was combating the imaginary Russian threat,” Newsweek reported.