Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

Brussels attack hits all of Europe, EU leaders say

  • Hollande: "War against terrorism must be conducted across Europe" in "cold blood". (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

[Updated 16.45] EU leaders said the bomb attacks in Brussels Tuesday (22 March), which killed at least 34 people and injured dozens of others, were "an attack on our open democratic society".

In a joint statement, the EU heads of state and government and the leaders of the EU institutions said they would be "united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism".

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  • EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini left a press conference in Amman in tears. (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Earlier in the day, French leader Francois Hollande said the bomb blasts in Brussels targeted “the whole of Europe”, as messages of sympathy poured in from round the world.

Speaking on TV after an emergency cabinet meeting in Paris, Hollande said: “Through the attacks in Brussels, the whole of Europe has been hit.

He said the “war against terrorism” must be conducted across Europe in “cold blood”.

In the Belgian and EU capital, prime minister Charles Michel described the events as “blind, violent, cowardly attacks”.

He said his priority was treating victims. But he said it was difficult to secure the sites of the attacks or specify the exact number of casualties at that point.

He did not comment on whether the attacks were connected to last week's arrest in Brussels of Saleh Abdeslam, who took part in the Paris attacks in November 2015

Belgian officials said it was an obvious assumption, but they had no proof as yet.

Amid scant news on the victims, the Slovenian foreign ministry said one of its diplomats was among the people injured in the explosion at the Maelbeek metro station in the EU district in Brussels.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini broke down in tears during a press conference in Amman in Jordan.

She said it was a “very difficult day for Europe” before leaving the podium.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: “We all stand together with our ally Belgium on this dark day.”

Other EU leaders echoed Hollande’s statement.

"Brussels was hit hard. Belgium was hit hard. Europe was hit hard,” said Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who holds the rotating EU presidency.

“Europe is under attack,” Irish leader Enda Kenny said.

Swedish PM Stefan Loefven said: “It is an attack on democratic Europe.”

Several European capitals announced they would step up security on transport networks in reaction to the events.

France said it was deploying 1,600 additional security forces. France, Germany and the Netherlands said they were also coordinating extra security checks on the Belgian border.

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