‘Europe is at war’: Leaders speak out against deadly terrorists attacks in Brussels

French President Francois Hollande (L) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls talk after a meeting about blasts in Brussels at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 22, 2016 © Gonzalo Fuentes
World leaders have spoken out against the terrorist attacks in Brussels with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying that the continent is “at war,” while the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was an attack against the EU’s freedom.

The Belgian capital was rocked by a twin blast at the city’s airport at around 8am local time (07:00 GMT) and an explosion at the Maalbeek Metro station, just meters away from a number of EU buildings less than an hour later. At least 34 people have been killed in what the Belgian authorities have said were both terrorist attacks. 

Meanwhile, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw says that some of those who took part in the assaults could still be at large.

"The court investigator is engaged in the probe into the events in Zaventem [Brussels airport] in order to do everything possible to determine the perpetrators and find out whether they remain at large," he said at a press conference. 

Valls, who was speaking at an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace, said “We are at war and have been suffering for several months in Europe,” in regards to the November 13 Paris terror attacks, which killed 130 people in the French capital. 

“We are faced with war and we need to be mobilized at all times,” the French PM added. His President Francois Hollande offered his condolences to those affect in Brussels. 

“I express my full solidarity with the Belgian people. The whole of Europe has been hit by the Brussels attacks,” Hollande tweeted. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that France would deploy an extra 1,600 security personnel along its borders. 

The German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the attacks on the Belgian capital were aimed not just at Belgium, but also at the whole of the European Union and the freedoms that it stands for. 

"It seems that the clear targets of the attacks - an international airport, a Metro station close to EU institutions - indicate that this terrorist attack is not aimed solely against Belgium, but against our freedom, freedom of movement, mobility and everyone in the EU," he told a news conference in Berlin, according to Reuters. 

The scenes in Brussels prompted Germany to also step up security measures at transport hubs, as well as its western borders. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would chair a crisis response meeting following the Brussels terror attacks. 

"I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help," Cameron tweeted. "I will be chairing a COBRA meeting on the events in Brussels later this morning." 

President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to King Philippe of Belgium over the deaths of civilians in Brussels. The Russian leader condemned the attacks, stressing that terrorism knows no borders and threatens all people of the world. 

“The fight against this evil implies most active international cooperation,” Putin said, adding that he was confident that the murderers and their accomplices will be punished. 

Writing on his Facebook page, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the terrorist attacks at the airport and the Metro in Brussels “a barbaric crime,” as well as showing the need for a universal fight against terrorism. 

“The attacks in Brussels are a barbaric crime against civilians. We offer our profound condolences to the victims' families,” Medvedev wrote. 

“This incident once again underlines the need for coordinated efforts by the international community to combat terrorism,” he added. 

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini was forced to cut short a news conference in Jordan as she broke down in tears when speaking of the Brussels bombings. 

The Metro bombing took place very near a number of important EU buildings such as Berlaymont building, which houses the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union. 

European Council President Donald Tusk called the Brussels attacks “another low by terrorists.” 

“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. I extend my sincerest sympathies to the relatives and friends of the victims. These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence...” he said in a statement.

The FBI says it has been coordinating with its Belgian colleagues following the attacks, while Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have both been made aware of the incidents.