The deadly explosions in Brussels, Belgium that have killed more than 30 people have left Belgians shocked and confused – but not totally surprised.
That’s according to South Surrey resident Veerle Anseeuw, who is in Belgium visiting her parents to celebrate her father’s 92nd birthday.
Anseeuw told The Leader the blasts at the airport and a metro station in Brussels on Tuesday weren’t totally unexpected.
“I became nervous last Friday when they arrested (ISIS member and Paris bombing suspect Salah Abdeslam),” said Anseeuw, who is staying in Onstend, a city roughly 100 kilometres from Brussels.
“People were wondering what repercussions there would be because he was able to hide with help from a lot of his people right in Brussels.
“There was a fear of impending doom. People knew this wasn’t going to happen without repercussions.”
Abdeslam was arrested Friday in Brussels and charged with participating in the terrorist attacks in Paris last November that killed 130 people at a rock concert, a football stadium and several cafes.
Today’s attacks in Brussels included two bombs at the Brussels Airport and one at a metro subway station. More than 30 people have died and as many as 190 people are wounded. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Anseeuw arrived in Belgium last Thursday (March 17) and is scheduled to fly home on March 29.
“But we’ve been told to call back later and see if that’s possible, or if they will redirect us to a different airport. My husband was supposed to join us tomorrow (Wednesday), but we cancelled that flight. We didn’t want both of us here while our children (aged 27, 24, 19 and 17) are still home.”
Anseeuw said she feels “pretty safe” in Onstend, but is following the news updates and says “people are in shock. It’s very emotional. I’m watching newscasts and seeing people in different cities gathering to talk about this. It’s a very emotional atmosphere.”
Anseeuw said Belgium is under a Level 4 terror alert, the highest level of security, which diverts planes and trains and asks people to remain where they are. A three-day mourning period has been declared.
Global Affairs Canada issued a travel advisory for Belgium early Tuesday. Canadians are advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Belgium, “due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.”
Canadians in Brussels are also being advised to monitor Belgium’s Crisis Center account on Twitter.
“We’re close to the French border and they have slowed traffic crossing the border,” Anseeuw said. “It’s quite a setback, because you usually just drive right through. Now, people are wondering what will change. Will this change the way we think and the way we live?”