UPDATE: ISIS claims responsibility for Brussels attacks: Reports
A series of deadly explosions rocked Brussels on Tuesday, targeting the Belgian capital’s main airport and metro system.
Belgian officials said the bombings at Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station killed at least 34 people and injured more than 230, according to reports. Officials raised the city’s terror threat level and shut down public transit after the blasts.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called Tuesday a dark moment for the country.
“What we feared has come to pass. Our country has been struck by attacks which are blind, violent and cowardly,” Michel told a news conference.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon told NBC News that authorities were now in a high state of alert and working “day and night to arrest these guys.”
“The people of IS are also professionals. So that means that the job is extremely difficult and we are doing everything to make it to a success.”
The explosions reignited terror concerns only four days after police captured the most-wanted suspect in last year’s Paris terrorist attacks, which killed 130 people. Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders said no information suggested the attack was linked to the arrest of the suspect, Salah Abdeslam, who was captured in Brussels.
The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, according to a post by affiliated Amaq Agency. U.S. government agencies said the terrorist group’s claim appears authentic, Reuters reported, citing U.S. officials.
The Islamic State group subsequently issued an updated communique threatening other countries taking part in the anti-ISIS coalition.
The statement promised “dark days” for countries allied against the Islamic State, threatening that “what is coming is worse and more bitter.”
But Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too early to link the bombings to the Paris attacks.
Attackers set off two bombs, which contained nails, at the Zaventem airport, sending passengers fleeing, NBC News reported. Belgian news agency Belga said shots were fired and Arabic was shouted before the blasts, Reuters said.