Thursday, 24 March 2016
I saw the news about the airport bombings on Tuesday morning, and decided to walk the couple of miles or so to the Press Club, as I do on most days.
It became apparent that this was something major when I saw the stream of emergency vehicles heading out of the city in the direction of Zaventum. There were also a lot of unmarked cars with flashing lights buzzing around.
Only when I arrived did I learn of the carnage at Maelbeek metro station.
Maelbeek is very busy in the mornings, and it is the station used by European Parliament staff as they make their way to work. Its also the station that I used for many years to take my son to school - I lived virtually next door to the station for 9 years.
I am relieved to learn that those of my friends who use the metro are all accounted for, but I am dreading seeing the list of the casualties - the Brussels bubble is actually quite small, and it is inevitable that we will all know somebody involved. There are problems with identifying many of the victims, such was the ferocity of the blast.
The Brussels Press Club is just a minute or so from Maelbeek, and so I was able to talk to a number of police officers throughout the day. It was a nightmare inside the station I was told, and a lot of the emergency workers were clearly distressed.
I walked again yesterday, and took time along the route to talk to people I know, and one or two strangers as well. Everybody is traumatised, and everything looks different now. Its the attack we were waiting for, but I didn't think it would be this close to home.
Following a high profile arrest of a wanted terrorist in the city on Friday, police officers have been abused and attacked in the street by members of the Muslim community, who regard him as a "hero".
Equally sickening was a statement by a UKIP MEP to the effect that the bombings were "the EU's fault."
And so we have yet another 'emergency summit' at the Council. The rule is that there must be one Council meeting each year, with provision for a second if deemed necessary. However, such is the state of affairs that we have an emergency summit almost every week now.
As I write this there are sirens in the background, and another of the unmarked cars has just passed by at speed.
I think we may have a problem....