Brussels Attacks: "Europe Is At War"
Yesterday we learnt that there had been a terrorist attack in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, leaving more than 30 people dead and over a 100 wounded.
From what we know the Belgian police and first aid services are still recovering more bodies.
The attack was staged in four bomb explosions in two separate locations in the city.
The first twin hits occurred at Zaventem airport, Belgium's main airport at 7am at the department zone of the check in. One explosion hit close to the American Airlines check in and altogether left 11 people dead. One eyewitness described the aftermath of the attack with "smoke everywhere and the large debris of the ceiling falling on the ground". Only moments later thousands of people, passengers and airport staff ran out of the airport in panic. Ambulances and security forces arrived swiftly to maintain order and help people to safety.
Maelbeek metro station
Shortly after the explosions at the airport, the second attack took place at Maelbeek metro station, just 200 metres from the European Commission killing over 20 people and dozens injured.
From the latest reports, anyone working at the offices at the EU commission and the Parliament has been instructed to remain at their workstations, as it is the safest place ATM. The Belgian army has been called in to help out in the crisis and the Prime Minister of Belgian, Charles Michel, stated earlier today that "This is a day of tragedy, a black day... I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity."
Belgium has declared three days of national mourning and Brussels is at its highest security level. So if anyone is attempting to travel or visit Brussels any time soon, please postpone your plans and wait for further information.
So who is responsible?
ISIS have announced their involvement in today's attacks.
Who specifically carried out the attacks?
From what we know, several of the bombers and attackers who were responsible for the Paris attack in November 2015, were living in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. One of the main attackers who didn't get killed by French police in Paris, Salah Abdeslam, was in Belgium until he was captured on the 18th March.
Brussels has been under high alert in the last few months due to the suspected terror plots likely to take place. Brussels is not just the capital of Belgium, but also the capital of Europe, SHAPE and NATO.
There are many likely reasons why ISIS wants to bomb Brussels and one of main reasons is NATO (which includes the UK) are responsible for bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq. This could be a retaliation attack on NATO and they wanted to strike it at the heart.
Another reason may be that there was a gunfight between the Belgian police and members of ISIS last Friday (18th March 2016) in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek leading to the capture of Abdeslam. So again this could a desperate revenge attack by ISIS to send a clear message that they are still an organisation to be feared.
The final reason is all of the most likely targets for ISIS to strike - the European Parliament, NATO's HQ, the Belgian government, the Belgian Government and the EU Commission are all in Brussels. Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station are destinations that thousands of people use every day for transportation. What can't be ignored is that ISIS are targeting public congested areas to make bigger impacts and bring terror to all.
Is Cardiff safe from ISIS?
Honestly nowhere is exactly safe! What I mean is ISIS is unpredictable and we don't know where they will might strike next. Cardiff in terms of its geography is a small city even if it is the capital of Wales. From my experience it is a safe city and it is very multicultural where it benefits a lot for education, research, economy, tourism, business etc. However from today's event in Brussels, it takes only four-to-five hours on the train overall from Cardiff to Brussels so it is on our doorstep.
Should Cardiff and the UK close our borders?
Absolutely not! The reason I say this is one we would give in to fear and that is what ISIS want to achieve. We are again a multicultural society with people from many different backgrounds. Wales is a proud nation and rich one in all measures and it is working with the rest of the EU, which allows it to prosper and grow. What happened on Tuesday 22nd March 2016 was an attempt to destroy this prosperity, and Cardiff, the rest of the Europe, and the World should work together in co-operation to protect a better future for the next generation.
My family in Brussels
To end this article on a slightly personal note, two of my family members were in Brussels during the attack. Both are well and safe, but one was in the office just metres away from the Metro bomb attack. The other was going to use the train and then use the same metro station to attend a language class. Fortunately for him his class was in the afternoon.
If anyone has any relatives, loved ones or friends who could be involved in the bombing attack in Brussels please call Belgian Crisis Centre on +3278151771.
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