BRUSSELS ATTACKS: Police presence increased in city as Manchester terror threat level raised to severe

Manchester Airport has stepped up security after at least 34 people were killed and over a hundred injured in ISIS terror attacks in Brussels.

Three explosions shook the Belgian capital early this morning, with 11 confirmed dead from the initial double-blast at Zevantem airport and at least 20 more from an attack at Maelbeek metro station.

The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement via their A’maq news agency, with Belgian authorities releasing an image of the three suspects shortly afterwards.

Although Manchester residents have been assured that they are not believed to be at risk, police presence has also been increased in other areas across Greater Manchester.

Speaking to MM from the EU building in Brussels, North West MEP Theresa Griffin described events as ‘very confusing and strange’.

“We absolutely have to work together and keep everyone safe,” she said.

“The time this attack was done meant it was planned to cause the most harm.

“I think it says we have to be vigilant, we have to work collectively in Manchester and UK, but this is not just a British Issue.”

At least four UK nationals are thought to have been injured in the attacks, while Belgium has announced three official days of mourning.

A number of Manchester officials have reacted to the tragedy throughout the day.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the incidents in Brussels today,” said Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare.

“There is no specific threat in Greater Manchester following the events this morning but we remain at a threat level of severe.

“We are working closely with Manchester Airport to ensure that the appropriate response is in place and we have increased our patrols to support this.”

Assistant Chief Constable O’Hare said that more police officers are also being sent to other locations across the city.

“We will continue to review the situation and maintain our increased patrols in crowded areas, iconic locations and transport hubs, he said.

“The events today in Brussels reinforce the need for us all to remain vigilant and report any concerns whilst continuing with normal daily life.”

It is understood that least one of the explosions at Zevantem airport was caused by a suicide bomber.

Brussels has entered a state of lockdown, as surviving culprits are hunted and the threat of further attacks is assessed. 

“The terrible events in Brussels will shock and outrage people around the world,” said Greater Manchester Mayor and Police & Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

“All communities here in Greater Manchester will wish to express their solidarity with, and sympathy to the people of Belgium.

“Our thoughts are with them, alongside a determination that those who would seek to sow discord and fear through death and destruction will never win,” he added.

The attacks come just days after the main suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels.

“In response to this morning’s events at Brussels Airport, the police presence has been increased in landside areas at Manchester Airport,” said a spokesman for Manchester Airport.

“It is important to note that these are precautionary measures and we continue to closely monitor the situation.

“If flying to Brussels please check your flight status with your airline.”

The UK Foreign Office has advised British nationals in Belgium to stay away from crowded areas and avoid using public transport at this time.

Security has also been stepped up at Gatwick and Heathrow airports and no Eurostar trains are currently running to or from Brussels.

Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level.

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