LA on alert after terrorist bombings rattle Brussels; Islamic State claims responsibility

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At least 31 people are dead and over 200 injured following explosions that rocked Brussels's transportation network during the morning commute, according to multiple news reports.

Two blasts hit the international airport and another struck a metro station, according to both the Associated Press and NPR, citing Belgian media, police and public officials.

As a precaution, Los Angeles city officials and police activated their respective emergency operations centers at Level 1 and said they will be monitoring information on the Brussels attacks, according to Chris Ipsen, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference Tuesday that there are no credible and specific threats to the city but there is a show of force at key infrastructure sites, the AP reports.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying its extremists opened fire in the airport and "several of them" detonated suicide belts, according to the Associated Press:

The posting in the group's Amaq news agency said another suicide attacker detonated in the metro.

The posting claimed the attack was in response to Belgium's support of the international coalition arrayed against it.

Local FBI official David Bowdich says "extraordinary measures" are being taken by the FBI and the region's joint terrorism task force to support foreign partners and to ensure there are no U.S.-based connections to the attacks in Belgium, according to the AP.

Bowdich notes that the region's critical resources include its ports, international airport and the entertainment industry.

Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck says specific sites have police coverage and he urged the public to keeping an eye out for anything suspicious, the AP reports.

Los Angeles Rep. Adam Schiff, who currently serves as ranking member of the House Intelligence committee, said Europe and the U.S. should remain vigilant in the wake of the Brussels bombings.


Law enforcement officials in L.A. report there have so far been no specific threats at home, but security has been stepped up at several public transit points, including at some Metro stations and the airport.

"Out of the abundance of caution, resources are being deployed to critical infrastructures throughout the city, like city hall or LAX, places like that," LAPD Officer Tony Im told KPCC.

Im said they'll also increase patrols around other critical facilities, including water and power sites.

Los Angeles airport police said there are no impacts to flight operations and that they are monitoring security.

"There are no specific threats to LAX," said Officer Alicia Hernandez. "As a precaution, we'll increase visibility of airport officers."

Hernandez said there are no direct flights from LAX to Brussels.

L.A. airport police checkpoints will remain random.

Sheriff's officials report they are stepping up security at several locations along Metro's transit lines.

AP reports at least 31 people were killed in the Brussels attacks.

The State Department warned Americans about potential risks to travel in Europe, the AP reports. "Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation," it said in a statement. Officials advised U.S. citizens to "exercise vigilance" in public places or on mass transportation and to take "particular caution" during religious events or large events.

Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting "serious and imminent attack," NPR reports. 

"What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks," Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a midday news conference Tuesday, according to NPR.

President Barack Obama, speaking while on an historic visit to Cuba, said the U.S. will "do whatever is necessary" to help Belgium bring to justice the perpetrators.

Obama said the U.S. stands "in solidarity" with Belgium in condemning "these outrageous attacks against innocent people" and that the attacks are another reminder that "the world must unite" against the "scourge of terrorism," AP reports.

For continuing coverage on the situation in Brussels, you can follow live updates from the New York Times.

To join the discussion, check out the AirTalk page.

This story has been updated.

Clarification: An earlier version of this post stated that 34 people had been killed in the attacks. That number has since been revised to 31, according to the Associated Press. 

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