This morning a series of deadly explosions tore through the Belgian capital of Brussels. There were two bombings at the Zaventem airport, at least one of which was a suicide bombing, as well as reports of gunfire. An hour later a bomb went off in the city’s metro rail station at Maelbeek, reportedly also a suicide attack.
The Belgian government has started a roundup of known terror suspects around Brussels, while authorities used a controlled explosion to detonate a suspicious package found at the airport. Casualty numbers are unofficial at this point but it’s believed at least 34 were killed (CBS is reporting 36 dead) and scores, possibly hundreds injured. American Airlines announced all of its employees were accounted for, and no injuries were reported, though some of the injured do reportedly include Americans. CNBC is reporting that ISIS has taken responsibility for the attacks.
The bombings will likely throw travel in Europe into chaos as Brussels closed the metro system and canceled flights. High speed train runs between London and Brussels were also canceled. The government issued a request that citizens avoid all movement for the short term. Belgian authorities also evacuated all but essential staff at a nearby nuclear power plant.
Effects Echo Across Globe
The bombings are also having an effect on the rest of Europe as police and anti-terror forces go on high alert. In France additional police patrols were implemented with 1,600 additional border patrol officers mobilized to ensure no one involved slips across the Belgian border. In the U.S., Washington, D.C. Metro Police increased patrols of bomb-sniffing dogs and stepped up security patrols.
Markets were mixed as investors sought to gauge the severity of the attacks. Airline stocks were mixed with most coming off their early lows as more details became available. The Dow and S&P 500 were trading lower while the Nasdaq was up over ten points in early trading. Gold moved up eight dollars, although it’s unclear if that was related to today’s news.
The Political Fallout
With the presidential primaries in full swing, expect today’s bombings in Belgium to take center stage as voters roll out to the polls and caucuses in Idaho, Utah and Arizona and Republicans go to the polls in American Samoa. Those votes will be followed by Alaska, Hawaii and Washington on Saturday.
Have We Become Used to Terror?
Perhaps the saddest element to the news out of Brussels is how routine the response has become. Thankfully police and security forces respond with the appropriate level of additional force. Denunciations from world leaders were both swift and predictable. Travelers know to prepare and allow extra time for additional security and the world’s response has become unfortunately familiar and routine.