34 dead in Brussels attacks as ISIS claims responsibility and new threat

Mar 22, 2016 9:11 AM by Debbie Cobb

BRUSSELS (AP) - The Islamic State group has issued an updated communique taking credit for the Brussels attacks and threatening other countries taking part in the anti-IS coalition.

The statement promises "dark days" for countries allied against the Islamic State, threatening that "what is coming is worse and more bitter."

The communique was published in Arabic and French, and an English translation was provide by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.

IS also released photos purportedly showing its fighters in Syria giving out candy to children to celebrate the Brussels attacks, according to SITE.

Meantime, a Belgian security official says the death toll has risen to 34 in attacks on the Brussels airport and a subway station.

The official did not specify how many people were killed and wounded at each site. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because precise numbers were expected to be announced early Wednesday.

Earlier, the government had reported 20 dead at the Maelbeek metro station, in the heart of the European Union's capital, and 11 dead at the airport, and scores of injured.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

10 p.m.

President Barack Obama has ordered that all American flags in the U.S. be flown at half-staff through Saturday out of respect for victims of the Brussels attack.

Obama said in a proclamation issued hours after Tuesday's attacks that "the American people stand with the people of Brussels. We will do whatever it takes, working with nations and peoples around the world, to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, and to go after terrorists who threaten our people."

9:55 p.m.

German police say three Kosovars who are suspected of possible links to an extremist network have been arrested on a highway in the south of the country.

The state criminal police office in Bavaria confirmed a report by broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk that the three were arrested early Tuesday on the Munich-Salzburg highway, news agency dpa reported.

According to the report, they were in a Belgian-registered car. However, the criminal police office said that there are no indications at this point of any link with Tuesday's attacks in Brussels.

9:50 p.m.

Police in the Belgian capital are calling on people who may have filmed images from the attacks on the city airport and subway to help assist with their investigation.

Brussels police called in a statement late Tuesday for help from "anyone who has amateur film where the attackers may be in view and could help move their investigation forward."

9:25 p.m.

The U.N. Security Council has strongly condemned the Brussels attacks and urged intensified regional and international efforts "to overcome terrorism and violent extremism."

A statement approved by the U.N.'s most powerful body expressed solidarity with Belgium and underlined the need to bring those responsible for "these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

The Security Council again urged all countries to combat "terrorist acts" and take measures to prevent and stop the financing "of terrorism, terrorist organizations and individual terrorists."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the attacks and expressed confidence "that Belgium's and Europe's commitment to human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence will continue to be the true and lasting response to the hatred and violence of which they became a victim today," his spokesman said.

8:25 p.m.

Belgium's interior minister says authorities knew that some kind of extremist act was being prepared in Europe but that they were surprised by the scale of the attacks in Brussels.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Tuesday that "it was always possible that more attacks could happen but we never could have imagined something of this scale."

Jambon told RTL television that "we had no information about this, but we know that things were moving in Europe, in different countries, in France, in Germany, here."

He said the Belgian authorities have no information about the planning of "any kind of action in Brussels at this time."

8:20 p.m.

Some of Europe's best-known monuments have been illuminated with Belgium's national colors in a show of solidarity after the attacks in Brussels.

At nightfall Tuesday, the Eiffel Tower in Paris lit up in the black, yellow and red colors of the Belgian flag.

Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, which after the November attacks in Paris was illuminated with the French colors of red, white and blue, also was lit up in Belgian colors. A few blocks away, some people laid flowers and lit candles outside the Belgian Embassy.

And in Italy, Rome's Trevi Fountain joined in the show of Belgium's national colors.

7:30 p.m.

Belgian federal prosecutors say a house search in the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek has "led to the discovery of an explosive device containing among other things nails."

Investigators also found chemical products and an Islamic State flag.

Their statement said that IS had claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels via a press agency but that this information still needs to be verified.

Prosecutors say it's not possible at this stage to establish any links between the attacks Tuesday in Brussels and those in Paris on Nov. 13 that left 130 people dead.

6:55 p.m.

A Belgian prosecutor says police raids are happening around the country after two men "probably" staged suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and a third fled.

Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Tuesday that the third suspect is actively being sought by police.

At least 31 people were killed and nearly 190 wounded in the two airport bombings and another in the Brussels subway system.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said the country will tighten security at its borders. He declared three days of national mourning after what he says were probably the most tragic attacks the country has seen in peacetime.


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