Obama blasts ‘outrageous’ Brussels attacks, vows aid to Belgium
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Obama blasts ‘outrageous’ Brussels attacks, vows aid to Belgium

European leaders beef up security throughout the Continent after ‘black day’ rocks European Union capital, killing at least 34

A Belgian soldier stands guard outside the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels on March 22, 2016 after a blast killed at least 15 people. (AFP/Cédric SIMON)
A Belgian soldier stands guard outside the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels on March 22, 2016 after a blast killed at least 15 people. (AFP/Cédric SIMON)

US President Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous” attacks Tuesday in Brussels that killed at least 34 people, saying the United States would do everything in its power to hunt down those responsible.

“We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible,” said Obama, speaking just hours after a string of bombings in the Belgian capital.

“We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world,” he said, speaking in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Tuesday that it was “a day of tragedy, a black day.”

“Two attacks took place this morning in Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station, blind, violent, cowardly attacks,” he said as he announced the attacks on national television.

“There are many dead and many wounded, some of them seriously,” he said.

European nations responded with both shock and messages of support following the attacks. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his country’s solidarity with Belgium in an emotional Twitter post, saying that both nations “face terrorism together.” British Prime Minister David Cameron also said on Twitter he was “shocked and concerned” by the events.

Cameron said he would hold emergency security talks in the wake of the explosions.

“I will be chairing a COBRA meeting on the events in Brussels later this morning,” Cameron said. COBRA meetings are held to discuss how the government responds to emergency situations and brings together ministers, police and intelligence officers.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the attacks and offered his condolences, saying, “We must defend our security and values in the face of such terrorist outrages, and refuse to be drawn into a cycle of violence and hatred.”

“We take pride in our societies of diverse faiths, races and creeds and will not allow those who seek to divide us to succeed,” he said.

Security was tightened at sensitive sites and airports in the Netherlands, France and the UK, while Russia, which saw one of its own planes downed by the Islamic State terror group last year, was said to be rethinking security procedures at its terminals.

(LtoR) Belgium's Vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Vice-Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Cooperation Development, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal services Alexander De Croo hold a press conference after the multiple explosions in Brussels at the airport and in the metro, on March 22, 2016 in Brussels. (AFP/BELGA/Nicolas Maeterlinck)
(L-R) Belgium’s FM Didier Reynders, Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw, PM Charles Michel, Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Minister Alexander De Croo hold a press conference after the explosions in Brussels on March 22, 2016 in Brussels. (AFP/BELGA/Nicolas Maeterlinck)

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that Paris was deploying 1,600 additional police to border crossings and air, sea and rail infrastructure after the attacks.

‘Sad day’ for Europe

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the blasts marked a “very sad day” for Europe, telling reporters during a visit to Jordan that the Continent was now suffering like the Middle East.

“It is… a very sad day for Europe as Europe and its capital is suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day,” she said tearfully at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

She said it was already clear that the blasts were attacks that resulted from radicalization, and called for European and Middle Eastern leaders to work together to tackle the scourge.

“We are still waiting for more precise news on the dynamics of the attacks in Brussels but it is quite clear the roots of the pain we are suffering around our region are very much the same,” she said.

“We are united in not only suffering… but also reacting to these acts and preventing radicalization and violence together.

“Being here together is the most powerful message of strength and friendship among our people that we can pass to those who would like to divide us.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reacts during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (AFP / str)
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reacts during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (AFP / str)

Russia and Turkey — themselves targets of attacks in recent months — condemned the blasts, saying they bore out the need to fight terrorism.

“I curse the attacks that took place this morning in Brussels, which once again show the global face of terrorism,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement. “I express condolences to the Belgian government and people, and wish to share feelings of solidarity on behalf of our nation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attacks “barbarous crimes [that] demonstrate once again that terrorism has no borders and threatens people around the world. Fighting this evil calls for the most active international cooperation.”

“Today is a black day for Europe. The horrible events in Brussels affect us all. We are steadfastly at the Belgians’ side,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter.

“Our Union’s capital is under attack. We mourn the dead & pledge to conquer terror through democracy,” the Greek foreign ministry said in a tweet.

It added in French, “Nous sommes tous Bruxellois” — “We are all citizens of Brussels.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the “deplorable” attacks on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the victims as we stand with Belgium & the EU,” he said.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven described the blasts as “an attack against democratic Europe. We will never accept that terrorists attack our open societies.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, “My heart and spirit in Brussels, Europe,” while Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said, “The Brussels attacks strike the heart of our Europe.”

Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen denounced the blasts as a “despicable attack.”

European Union President Donald Tusk condemned the series of blasts early Tuesday at Brussels airport and a metro station as appalling “terrorist attacks.”

“I am appalled by the bombings this morning at Zavantem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others,” Tusk said in a statement.

“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, too, condemned the terror attacks in Brussels, saying in a statement that the Palestinian leadership and people oppose any form of terror, Israel Radio reported. He also sent his condolences to the families of the victims.

The Lebanon-based Shiite terror group Hezbollah also denounced the attack.

Israeli Arab MK and Joint List leader Ayman Odeh expressed sympathy for the victims, calling the Islamic State “an enemy of all of humanity” and saying “the Arab world needs to vomit it up from within itself and achieve victory for the nations of the region for the sake of peace and democracy.”

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