Brussels Under Attack

  • by Sigyn Elst (brussels)
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2016
  • Inter Press Service

Image source: Jef Versele via Yahoo News Image source: Jef Versele via Yahoo NewsI was still into the latest stories on the detention of Salah Abdeslam in the strong protected prison in Bruges, following his arrest in Molenbeek days before. His involvement in the Paris attacks in November 2015 is widely known by now. At 08.15 hrs., an sms from my husband shook me. ‘Breaking news: bomb attacks in Brussels airport'. My newspaper still smelled the ink but was transformed into an old out of date newspaper the very same moment. What then followed was a rollercoaster of emotions. Off course Belgium was aware of the threat. After attacks in London, Madrid and Paris, Brussels was just in the waiting line. But one never thinks the unspeakable would happen, as today.

The first information came from social media. Tweets of eyewitnesses at Brussels airport, pictures showing smoke in the departure hall of the airport and lots, lots of glass shards. Along with the first official figures on the number of people killed and wounded in the two blasts at the airport, came the news of a second attack at the metro station Maalbeek in the heart of Brussels, very near the European institutions.

Again people in the area were faster than the media to post pictures and videos on the extreme chaos. One video showed the travellers climbing out one by one of what remained of their train. You could hear the screaming of a child, harrowing, and so in contrast with the extreme silence of the other victims, shuffling in the dark of the tunnel as if they were sleepwalking to what they believed was a way out. Was the child on his or her way to school? Did the kid lose his or her mother or father in the chaos? I strongly hope that someone took the kid by the hand, carried to the sunlight and at night walked him or her to the Place de la Bourse where hundreds of colourful messages in different languages were spontaneously written with chalk on the ground.

I hope the child knows and feels that unity is strength and pain heals when people lit candles together like a blam to soothe wounds and share or send, without knowing each other, messages of love and solidarity out from far away nations like Pakistan, India, the Unites States, Italy, Germany and Norway. I hope the colours of the Belgian flag projected on the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburger Tor, the Trevi Fountain and the Burj Khalifa made that child for one moment forget the horrible images of March 22nd in this beloved city, and that he or she will get back on the life this country offers, just like Brussels its capital will. Sigyn Elst is in charge of IPS News Agency in Brussels and lives in Antwerp, Belgium

© Inter Press Service (2016) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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