On the morning of 22 March 2016, three coordinated bombings occurred in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem and one at Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. In these attacks, at least 31 victims and two suicide bombers were killed, and 250 other people were injured. An assault rifle and a third bomb were found during a search of the airport. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks. The bombings are the deadliest act of terrorism to have occurred in Belgium. The Belgian government declared three days of national mourning.
There were two explosions in the international departure hall at Brussels Airport, Zaventem, shortly after 08:00 local time; one near the American Airlines and Brussels Airlines check-in desks, and the other next to a Starbucks coffee shop. The explosion shattered windows and significant damage was reported inside the building.
It was reported that shots were fired and shouts were heard before the explosions occurred. An airport worker said he “heard someone yelling in Arabic before the blasts”. An AK-47 assault rifle and a third bomb were found in a search of the airport. The bomb was later destroyed in a controlled explosion. Belgium’s federal prosecutor confirmed that the explosions with nail bombs were carried out by a suicide bomber.
After the attack, the airport was closed, and all departures and rail transport to the airport were cancelled. According to the airport manager, the airport will remain closed until Thursday. All inbound flights were either cancelled or diverted to nearby airports including Charleroi, Ostend–Bruges and Schiphol. The Belgian government put the country onto its highest national threat level.
In the bombings, at least 33 people, including two suicide bombers, were killed and 250 others were injured, some critically. Thirteen died at Brussels Airport, while the remaining 20 died at the metro station. The bombings were the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history. Eighty-one others were injured at the airport, while the rest were injured at the metro station.