BRUSSELS (AP) – 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. The prosecutor says 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.
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 the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for today’s deadly attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station 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 and those in Paris on Nov. 13 that left 130 people dead.
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.
Ralph Usbeck, an electronics technician from Berlin, was checking his baggage for an American Airlines flight to Florida when the first blast struck in Brussels. He assumed it was a training exercise.
He says “seconds later, a much more heavy, heavy detonation happened, some more distance (away) but much more heavy. This was the moment I realized this was a terrorist act.”
He says few people appeared worried after the first bomb went off but the second did spark panic and crying amid billows of “dirty dust, like from concrete.”
He says “it took a very, very long time till the ambulances came” – maybe 30 minutes.
At home on the political front, John Kasich is criticizing President Barack Obama for not cutting his Cuba trip short in light of the attacks in Brussels, but the Ohio governor is offering far more muted rhetoric on the attacks than his GOP competitors, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
Speaking to reporters in Minneapolis Tuesday, Kasich says Obama should return to the United States to call European heads of state and assemble intelligence experts at home. He’s suggesting the president is being “too lax” in facing the growing threat of what he calls radical Islamic terrorism.
Despite Kasich’s use of that term, he’s criticizing his opponents for suggesting all Muslims should be targeted. Earlier Tuesday, Cruz said Muslim neighborhoods should be patrolled, and Trump has reiterated his calls to ban Muslims from entering the country.
Kasich says he doesn’t believe all Muslims in Minnesota or elsewhere are “somehow intent on trying to destroy our families.”
He adds, “the last thing we need is more polarization . . . this is a time when you have to keep your cool.”
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders tells reporters in Arizona that the attacks in Brussels show the need for “significantly improved surveillance” and the sharing of intelligence with countries around the world.
The Democratic presidential candidate is condemning the attacks in Brussels. He says he strongly disagrees with calls by some Republicans for stepped up domestic surveillance of Muslims in the United States.
He said in Flagstaff, Arizona Tuesday: “That would be unconstitutional – it would be wrong.”
Sanders was campaigning later in the day in San Diego, California. He’s competing with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in contests on Tuesday in Idaho, Utah and Arizona.