The entire Europe was the aim of these attacks, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after Brussels was hit by several blasts with at least 26 people killed and more than hundred injured.

Only a few days after one of the main suspects of November Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels, the Belgian capital was hit by a series of bomb attacks.

Two blasts were reported from the city’s airport Zaventem and another from the metro station Maelbeek, just a few hundred meters from the European Commission in the heart of the district of the Belgian capital, where EU institutions are located.

According to local media, at least 26 people died with more than hundred injured.

All official meetings, conferences and events planned by the institutions were cancelled. The whole area was locked down for traffic and pedestrians.

“Our thoughts are with the victims,” Margueritis Schinas, chief spokesperson of the European Commission, said at the daily press meeting of the European Commission.

“Now is not the time for statements,” Schinas said. “Here in the European Commission and the EU institutions we will remain resolute – we stand together united against terror in full solidarity with the people of Brussels.”

According to Schinas, Commission President Juncker and Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva were “since early morning in the building” and “are coordinating with security services.” The Commission’s response will be “calm and sober,” Schinas added.

Schinas did not want to comment on the question whether the EU was targeted by the attacks.

“We continue to work calmly and effectively. We are here, we are in the building. We feel safe and we do our work”, Schinas said. “The security concerns, the handling of the security situation is with the Belgian authorities, not with us, across Brussels.”

“These attacks hit Belgium. Europe in its totality was the target,” Juncker wrote in a message published in the afternoon.

“Brussels will stand strong” and “EU institutions hosted so generously by Brussels institutions and Belgian inhabitants will do likewise,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz tweeted.

All meetings and visits to the Parliament were cancelled as well as those scheduled for the following day (March 23).

In a speech given shortly after the attacks, French President Francois Hollande said that fighting terrorism is a “European fight.”

“Europe was hit,” Hollande said, “therefore Europe must take the necessary measures in front of the gravity of the threat.”

The French president called for implementation of the decisions taken already at European level to act against terrorism.

In a joint statement, the leaders of 28 EU member states expressed their solidarity with the Belgian people and government.

“The European Union mourns the victims of today’s terrorist attacks,” the leaders said. “We are determined to face this threat together with all necessary means.”

  • Author: Daniele Weber, Euranet Plus News Agency