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Ambassador Says Zimbabweans Safe in Belgium Hit By Terrorists

  • Blessing  Zulu

Belgium police leave after an investigation in a house in the Anderlecht neighborhood in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016.

Belgium police leave after an investigation in a house in the Anderlecht neighborhood in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016.

Zimbabwe Ambassador to Belgium, Tadeous Tafirenyika Chifamba, says indications are that all Zimbabwean citizens are safe in the country following terrorist bombings at the local international airport and train station on Tuesday.

Ambassador Chifamba told VOA Studio 7 that some Zimbabweans, who were supposed to arrive at the airport on the day of the bombings, went to Paris, France, and used buses to get to Belgium.

“The information that we have is that all Zimbabweans are safe, at least I can speak on behalf of the diplomats and their families. I can also speak on behalf of students who are studying in Belgium. We have been actively contacting the authorities here and we are aware that one or two Zimbabweans were transiting through Brussels but fortunately they were not affected.

“For some that we were expecting yesterday (Tuesday) they disembarked in Paris and came by bus to Belgium. So far the information that we have is that no Zimbabweans were affected.”

Asked about the current security situation in the country, Ambassador Chifamba said it was tense and the authorities were doing everything in their power “to keep the situation calm but on maximum alert.”

He said the bombed airport is still closed with indications that it may open Thursday or as soon as they are convinced that the place is cleared and safe for use.

On warnings by the United States that terrorists were planning to carryout more attacks, he said, Europe is not the only theater of turmoil in today’s world.

“I guess it is fair to say what we see emerging particularly after the attacks in Paris and elsewhere, I guess there were some scares in the UK last year and here in Brussels, is that a new normal seems to be emerging that perhaps until and unless the problem of ISIS is addressed as well as issues to do with extremism and terrorism we might be in this kind of situation for the long haul.”

He noted that the U.S appears very much concerned as one of the bombed checking-in counters at the airport were for airline plying the American routes.

Authorities say 31 people died in the explosions, which left over 271 people injured.

Intelligence officials said Wednesday that a 25-year-old Islamic State bomb maker who was involved in the Paris attacks in November was one of two suicide bombers who targeted the Brussels airport this week.

Authorities said Najim Laachraoui, who was born in Morocco but grew up in Brussels, was identified as a key participant in the Paris attacks after his DNA was found on suicide vests used in the operation. His DNA was also found Tuesday at an apartment in Brussels where authorities think bombs were constructed.

Meanwhile, a second man identified as a suicide bomber in Tuesday's Brussels attacks had been detained by Turkey and deported but was released by European authorities about eight months ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

Erdogan said his government warned authorities in Belgium about Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, who was stopped in southern Turkey near the Gaziantep border crossing into Syria. The Turkish president said el-Bakraoui was deported last July but was then subsequently released, "despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter."

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