President Muhammadu Buhari joined other world leaders yesterday to express shock over the Brussels terror attacks, which claimed 30 lives and left 230 others severely injured.
A statement issued by the president’s media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina said Buhari commiserated with Prime Minister Charles Michel and Belgians over the loss of at least 30 lives in the attacks.
The president assured Prime Minister Michel and the people of Belgium that having suffered the horror and anguish of incessant terrorist attacks for several years, Nigeria stood in full solidarity with them on their day of national pain and trauma.
Buhari said he believed that the appalling attack on Brussels, reinforced the need for greater international cooperation to effectively confront and destroy global terrorism and its perpetrators.
The president assured the global community that under his leadership, Nigeria would continue to work with other countries of the world to ensure that terrorism never triumphs over free, peaceful and law-abiding nations and people of the world.
He wished the more than 200 persons injured in the attacks a speedy recovery.
Also speaking in Havana on the third day of his visit to Cuba, President Barack Obama said the United States would do whatever was necessary to support its friends in Belgium, reported AFP.
“We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people,” he added. “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together.”
In France, French Premier, Manuel Valls declared that Europe was at war, adding: “We have been enduring acts of war for many months in Europe. And in the face of this war, we need an every minute mobilisation.”
French President, Francois Hollande expressed his solidarity with the Belgian people. “It’s all of Europe that is hit,” he said.
Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help.” He said he would chair a meeting of government ministers on the events in the Belgian capital.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull tweeted: “Deeply concerned by the attacks in Brussels. Australians’ thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with the people of Belgium.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, expressed deep sympathy to the people of Brussels in a statement.
“These attacks have hit Brussels today, Paris yesterday – but it is Europe as a whole that has been targeted. The European Union and its institutions stand united in the face of terrorism,” Juncker said.
Ohio Governor, John Kasich tweeted: “I want to express my solidarity with the people of Belgium in the aftermath of the attacks that took place in Brussels. Along with every American, I am sickened by the pictures of the carnage, by the injuries and by the loss of life.”
Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump cautioned in a tweet that the US must be “vigilant and smart”. Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium.”
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, a news agency affiliated to the group said yesterday. Amaq carried the claim of responsibility several hours after the morning attacks.
“Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station,” it said.
The Amaq agency added that suicide bombers from the group strapped with explosive belts, had staged both attacks. Belgian media said police were on the hunt for one attacker who had survived.
According to reports by Reuters, shots were fired and there were shouts in Arabic shortly before two blasts rang out at the airport. Pictures on social media showed smoke rising from the terminal building through shattered windows and passengers running away down a slipway, some still hauling their bags.
All public transport in Brussels was shut down, as it was in London during 2005 militant attacks on the underground that killed 52.
The Belgian Crisis Centre, clearly wary of a further incident, appealed to the population: “Stay where you are.”
The blasts at the airport and metro station occurred four days after the arrest of terror mastermind, Salah Abdeslam, who plotted November’s Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. Belgian police had been on alert for any reprisal action.
Yesterday’s blasts triggered concern across western Europe with Britain calling a meeting of its crisis response committee. The Dutch military strengthening security at airports and borders and London’s major airports Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and City said they were working to provide a high police presence.
Video clips showed devastation inside the departure hall with ceiling tiles and glasses scattered across the floor. Some passengers emerged from the terminal with blood spattered over their clothes. A witness said the blasts occurred at a check-in desk.
The metro station hit by the explosion was Maelbeek, close to European Union institutions. There were no details immediately available of casualties in this second incident of the morning. VRT said the blast went off on a carriage of the underground train but that no one was killed.
Earlier, private broadcaster VTM had said there were reports of the metro death toll at 10.
Other media reports cited the transport authority saying the explosion was on a train travelling between Schuman and Maelbeek stations, close to the EU institutions.
A local journalist tweeted a photograph of a person lying covered in blood among smoke outside Maelbeek metro station, on the main Rue de la Loi Avenue, which connects central Brussels with the EU institutions.
All three main long-distance rail stations in Brussels were closed and train services on the cross-channel tunnel from London to Brussels were suspended.
European stocks fell after the explosions, particularly travel sector stocks including airlines and hotels, pulling the broader indices down from multi-week highs. Safe-haven assets, gold and government bonds rose in prices.