WASHINGTON DC —
A Zimbabwean living in Brussels, Belgium, which was attacked by suspected Islamic State terrorists on Tuesday, leaving at least 30 people dead and over 130 injured, says the situation is tense in the country.
Grace Kwinjeh, who lives near the bombed airport, told VOA Studio 7 that state security agents appear to be on top of the situation with hundreds of police and armed soldiers patrolling the streets and other places that were also attacked by the suspected terrorists.
“I am 10 minutes from Brussels International Airport. The situation here is very sad to say the least. It’s a very tense situation.”
People react outside Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday March 22, 2016.
The explosions came just days after the arrest of key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels. At least 131 people were killed in the French attacks. A senior Belgian official acknowledged that Tuesday’s attacks may have been brought forward as a result of Abdeslam’s arrest for fear he may have had knowledge of the plans, which he could have disclosed to interrogators.
One urgent line of inquiry now is whether an accomplice of Abdeslam, Najim Laachraoui, a 24-year-old Belgian citizen who fought in Syria, may have been involved. If he was, then that would suggest the bombings were carried out by the remnants of the network responsible for the Paris attacks.
Kwinjeh noted that “it seems a new (terrorist) network had already been put in place so inspite of the police finding large weapons and explosives it seems the new network is now in operation.”
Asked if she was safe, Kwinjeh said, “There is tight security and the debate that is going on if you listen to what French president Francois Hollande said earlier on he said they now have to deal with a combination of making sure that citizens are safe but also respecting civil liberties.
“So, there are a lot of concerns that tightened security can also go a bit too far in infringing people’s human rights but at the end of the day we are better off safe than sorry and I think Belgium has done well and I think their response has been incredible.”
Kwinjeh further said she had not yet received reports of any Zimbabwean who could be among the casualties or injured in the explosions.
A police officer stands guard as people are evacuated from Brussels airport, after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016.
Belgian police issued a wanted notice for a suspect in the Brussels airport bombing, one of three explosions claimed by Islamic State that rocked the capital.
The detonations, including an attack at a metro station, prompted Belgium to raise its terror alert to its maximum level.