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European governments heighten security as deadly blasts rock Brussels

Ahram Online , Reuters , AP , AFP , Tuesday 22 Mar 2016
French soldiers patrol at Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, north of Paris, Tuesday, March 22, 2016 (AP)

European countries are boosting security at airports and centres of public transport following deadly bombings at Brussels airport and metro Tuesday morning.

- The Belgian government has already instructed everyone in the city to stay where they are. 

Brussels transport authority has closed all public transport in the city following the deadly bombings at the airport and metro.

- London's Gatwick airport stepped up security after the string of explosions in Brussels as British Prime Minister David Cameron prepared to hold an emergency cabinet meeting on the attacks.

"As a result of the terrible incidents in Brussels, we have increased our security presence and patrols around the airport," the airport said in a statement.
"I will be chairing a COBRA meeting on the events in Brussels later this morning," Cameron said.

COBRA meetings are held to discuss how the government responds to emergency situations and bring together ministers, police and intelligence officers.
Dutch police also stepped up security patrols at airports and tightened checks at borders.

- Travellers passing through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport reported delays and a heavy police presence. Security agencies declined to give details of any further measures taken, but maintained the national threat level at "substantial", one notch below the highest.

Flights were diverted from Brussels to Amsterdam following the attacks.

Trains heading south to Belgium were subject to indefinite delays, Dutch state railways said.

- Security measures were reinforced at airports and train stations in Paris and across France, police said.

A full deployment of security officials was underway at all eight terminals of Charles de Gaulle airport and its two railway stations, with reinforced checks on trains arriving from Brussels, an airport source told AFP.

Additional patrols were also dispatched at Orly airport in southern Paris and the southern city of Toulouse.

Security was beefed up at train stations and on public transport in the capital, a police source added.

French President Francois Hollande held a meeting with his prime minister and interior minister to discuss the attacks in Belgium.

- The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, told staff in Brussels on Tuesday to remain indoors or stay at home after at least one blast rocked a station close to the city’s EU quarter.

"EU institutions (are) working together to ensure security of staff and premises. Please stay home or inside buildings," said Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who also handles employee and security issues, on her official Twitter account.

- The Local, an Italian English language news website, reports that security at Rome's Fiumicino airport has been tightened and flights to and from Brussels have been cancelled. Security at Milan airports has also been increased.

- American Airlines said none of its employees were injured in the explosions at Brussels airport

Unconfirmed reports on social media had said the blast took place near the American Airlines check-in counter at the airport in the Belgian capital.

The company would not comment on the reports, but said in a statement the airline was "taking care of our customers, employees and contractors."

It added that American Airlines Flight 751, due to have left Brussels Tuesday for Philadelphia, had been cancelled.

- Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven released a statement saying the explosions in Brussels are "an attack against democratic Europe.”

“We will never accept that terrorists attack our open societies," he told news agency TT in a statement, while his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen denounced the blasts on Twitter as a "despicable attack".

-EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated that it is a "very sad day" for Europe, saying on a visit to Jordan it was now suffering like the Middle East.

"It is...a very sad day for Europe as Europe and its capital is suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day," she said tearfully at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.


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