Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday killed at least 26 people and wounded 130 more, according to Belgian media, and raised the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe.
“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.
Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings. Yet the Brussels Metro Authority reported that 15 died and 55 were wounded in the subway station blast. And Belgian media report at least 11 more people were killed in the two blasts in the Brussels Airport departure hall.
Of the two explosions at the airport, at least one was a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said. A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.
Brussels under attack: Live updates
The subway station blast happened in the Brussels district of Maalbeek, near the European quarter, where much of the European Union is based, according to CNN affiliate RTL.
Richard Medic, who arrived at the station shortly after that explosion, wasn’t surprised by the carnage after all that Europe has gone through recently, including the November’s massacre in Paris that ISIS claimed responsibility for.
“I think, after the Paris attacks, we were assuming like this would happen,” the Brussels resident told CNN. “And it was a matter of time.”
Yet Jeff Versele, who was in the airport’s departure hall when the blasts occurred, said that he thinks Belgians should not hole themselves up and instead should continue to travel “to prove that we’re not afraid of those who have done (the attacks).”
That doesn’t mean being in the middle of it all, though, isn’t frightening.
“You cannot believe it; you cannot believe it,” Versele told CNN. “It was so insane. Not in my backyard.”
Belgian authorities took security precautions after Tuesday’s attacks, including shutting down all Brussels metro stations and evacuating the city’s airport.
This comes as the terror threat level in Belgium went up four — its highest. That step-up means that army soldiers can be sent onto the streets to meet security needs.
The ramifications were felt outside the Belgian capital as well.
Even as far away as the United States, Washington’s Metro system announced that it would be increasing K9 sweeps and police patrols as a precaution. President Barack Obama was briefed on the bombings in Cuba, where he is making a historic visit.