BRUSSELS—Bombs exploded Tuesday at the Brussels airport and in the city’s subway, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens, as a European capital was again locked down amid heightened security threats. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The two airport blasts, at least one of them blamed on a suicide bomber, left behind a chaotic scene of splattered blood in the departure lounge as windows were blown out, ceilings collapsed and travelers streamed out of the smoky building.
“We are at war,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting in Paris. “We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”
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European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, saying in a posting on the group’s Amaq news agency that its extremists opened fire in the airport and “several of them” detonated suicide belts. It said another suicide attacker struck in the subway.
The posting claimed the attack was in response to Belgium’s support of the international coalition arrayed against the group.
Michel said there was no immediate evidence linking the attacks with Abdeslam. After his arrest, Abdeslam told authorities he had created a new network and was planning new attacks.
Certain neighborhoods in Brussels, like the Molenbeek quarter, have bred extremists and supplied foreign fighters. Plotters linked to the Paris attacks and others have either moved through, or lived in, parts of the city.
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, told BFM television that the second, louder explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with victims’ blood.
“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere.”
“We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene,” Mouzoun said.