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'Black Day For Europe': Leaders React To Brussels Attacks

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/03/2016 Eline Gordts

European leaders reacted with outrage and solidarity after deadly attacks rocked the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday, and moved to tighten security measures across the continent.

Explosions at the Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station left at least 34 people dead, days after the key suspect in November's attacks in Paris was captured in Brussels.

French President Francois Hollande called an emergency meeting of senior government ministers, and said the explosions in Brussels were an attack on all of Europe.

"I've expressed my solidarity with the Belgian people. Terrorists struck Brussels but it was Europe that was targeted," Hollande wrote on Twitter. Europe must take "vital steps in the face of the seriousness of the threat," he said.

Hollande was in Brussels on Friday, where he appeared with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in a press conference to announce the capture of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam

After an emergency meeting in France, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared: "We are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said after an emergency meeting that there was a very real terrorist threat right across the different countries of Europe. "We have to meet that with everything we have," he said. "We won’t let these terrorists win,” Cameron said after the meeting. London police appealed for British people who witnessed the Brussels attacks to share videos and images that could help investigators.

Many countries announced increased security at border crossings and transport infrastructure across Europe.

France deployed a further 1,600 police officers to guard border crossings and transport links. The United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands also tightened airport security. Protections were stepped up at many European train stations, and the Eurostar suspended its service to Brussels-Midi station from Paris and London.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, cut short a news conference in Jordan as news of the Brussels attacks broke. She said that European countries are united in their suffering from terror attacks, but also in their determination to fight terror. "Today is a difficult day,"Mogherini said, appearing to fight back tears. 

German officials expressed outrage and solidarity with Belgium. “Today is a black day for #Europe,” German justice minister Heiko Maas said. “The horrible events in #Brussels affect us all. We are steadfastly at the Belgians’ side.”

"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," Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said at a Berlin news conference.

"Terrorists will never win," German chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff wrote on Twitter. "Our European values much stronger than hate, violence, terror." 

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would offer any possible help, and called a meeting of the government's emergency COBRA commitee in the UK.

All around the world, leaders expressed their condolences and offered solidarity to the Belgian people on Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack in Havana, where he's staying for a visit, Reuters reports.  U.S. officials, including the FBI, are in close contact with their Belgian counterparts, officials said. 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his country's condolences in a Twitter post.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned the attacks, which followed a deadly bombing in Istanbul that killed four tourists, including two American-Israeli nationals on Saturday.

The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- offered the organization's support to Belgium in a statement Tuesday.

The Russian and the Syrian governments condemned the attack, while blaming European policies.

While the Kremlin expressed condolences for the attack, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West's "double standards" were behind the terrorist attacks, and that poor relations between Russia and NATO have hampered efforts against terrorism. 

Syria's state news agency said the attacks were the result of "wrong policies."

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For additional coverage in French, visit Le Huffington Post and their live blog ; For coverage in German, visit HuffPost Germany ; For coverage in Spanish, visit HuffPost Spain ; For coverage in Arabic, visit HuffPost Arabi .  

 

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