Brussels: A series of apparently coordinated explosions ripped through Brussels airport and a city metro station yesterday, killing 34 people and wounding over 200 in the latest attacks to target Europe. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A man with blood stains on his sweater leaves Brussels airport yesterday. Pic/AFP
A man with blood stains on his sweater leaves Brussels airport yesterday. Pic/AFP

Security was tightened across the jittery continent and transport links paralysed after the bombings. Two blasts targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport at around 8:00am (1130 IST), with prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying the assault likely involved at least one suicide bomber.

Brussels airport after the explosions. Pic/PTI
Brussels airport after the explosions. Pic/PTI

A third hit Maalbeek metro station near the European Union’s main buildings, just as commuters were making their way to work in rush hour.

People react outside Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility. Pic/PTI
People react outside Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility. Pic/PTI

Bomb attacks at Brussels airport killed 14 people and left more than 90 wounded, a spokesman for the fire services said. “There are 96 wounded and 14 dead. These figures are likely to change; we hope to have complete figures by this evening,” the spokesman added. A local Brussels mayor said the bombing in the metro station killed around 20 people and injured 106.

Witnesses said victims lay in pools of blood at the airport, their limbs blown off.

There were chaotic scenes as passengers fled in panic, with a thick plume of smoke rising from the main terminal building.

“A lot of people lost limbs. One man had lost both legs and there was a policeman with a totally mangled leg,” airport baggage security officer Alphonse Lyoura said.

The explosions triggered a transport shutdown in the city that is home to the headquarters of both the EU and NATO. Flights were halted with metro, tram and bus services all suspended.

Probable cause
The bloodshed comes days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels on Friday of Salah Abdeslam — the prime suspect in the Paris terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State group — after four months on the run. European leaders reacted with shock and solidarity, urging cooperation in the fight against terrorism on a continent that has been on high alert for months.