European Command and NATO on High Alert after Brussels Terror Attacks
U.S. European Command and NATO went on high alert Tuesday in response to the terror bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and Metro subway system that killed at least 30 people and injured hundreds more, including an American military family.
The command initially said all troops in the city were unharmed.
"At the present time, we have accounted for all our U.S. military members who were in the region at the time of the attacks," it said in a statement. "Again, these personnel are safe and all accounted for."
The command later confirmed that one American troop and five of his family members were hurt in the attacks. The injuries weren't life-threatening.
The Defense Department has about 1,300 military personnel and dependents and about 600 civilian employees in Belgium, which is home to the European Union and NATO.
Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the head of EUCOM and NATO Allied Command Operations, arrived Tuesday morning in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It wasn't immediately clear whether he would return to Europe.
At NATO headquarters in Brussels, Jens Soltenberg, secretary general of the alliance, said, "We have decided to increase the alert state at NATO Headquarters. We remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation very closely."
At least three explosions ripped through the airport and the subway system in Belgium's capital, killing at least 28 and wounding more than 130.
Belgian media said the blast at the airport occurred near the American Airlines counters. About an hour after the airport explosion, there was a blast at the Maelbeek Metro station in central Brussels near the U.S. Embassy and European Union headquarters.
"We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened," said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, referring to the arrest in Brussels last Friday of the suspected bomb-maker in the wave of terror attacks in Paris last November.
Paris, London and other European capitals also went on higher security alerts, fearing copycat attacks.
The European Command statement said the U.S. military in Europe was "working closely with our interagency partners and host nation counterparts to determine the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of all U.S. personnel."
Note: This story was updated to include a reference to an American military family being injured beginning in the first paragraph.
--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
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