BRADFORD'S MEP Amjad Bashir has urged people to not be cowed by terrorists after today's attacks in Brussels.

At least 34 people were killed and 170 injured after coordinated bomb attacks on the main airport and the Metro system.

Mr Bashir, who represents Yorkshire and the Humber in European Parliament, arrived at the airport yesterday at about 10am.

He is currently holed up in a little apartment opposite the European Parliament, not far from the scene of the explosion on the Metro. Some fellow MEPs are in the Parliament, which is currently locked down, said Mr Bashir.

He said it was "eerily silent" in the city with roads closed and only police and ambulance vehicles on the streets.

Mr Bashir, who is from Bradford, added: "I was just getting ready to go to Parliament and all hell has broken loose. I can hear all the sirens, ambulances and police.

"It is just devastating. I am very much concerned and obviously there has been loss of life and injuries.

"We should not be deterred or cowed. These people have obviously lost their heads - but we should not lose ours. We should keep calm.

"This is a terrorist attack but we should not change our ways."

He added: "You can see distraught faces of people walking by.

"I didn't hear the explosions. I was ready to go to Parliament and was told not to come in. Colleagues in there are on shutdown.

"Everyone has been told not to congregate in buildings and to stay away from large groups of people."

On the mood in the city, Mr Bashir said: "I think people are upset. They are worried and that is to be sympathised with.

"We have got to hold on and be strong and condemn these attacks as outrageous.


"There is no justification for them, to take innocent lives like this, there is no gospel for this. It is a criminal attack that has happened.

"We have got to carry on with our lives and that is what we have to do - I am sure of that."

He said more needed to be done to keep people secure.

“Security has got to improve. Maybe don’t let people into airports who are not actually travelling. I think we have to introduce that here.

“Clearly these terrorists have found a weak spot and have been able to get in close.”

He added: “I arrived at the airport at about 10pm last night. All seemed calm and there did not seem to be any extra security, which in hindsight seems to be a big mistake.”

The attacks, condemned as "blind, violent and cowardly" by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, came after the arrest in the city last week of terror mastermind Salah Abdeslam, who plotted November's Paris atrocity from the notorious Molenbeek suburb of Brussels.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Responding to the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: "We are at war. In Europe we have been subjected to acts of war for several months."

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders warned: "We fear that people are still at large."

David Cameron hit out at "inappropriate" attempts to link the terror attacks to the debate on Britain's future in the EU, adding that the countries of Europe need to "stand together against these appalling terrorists and make sure they can never win".

A suicide bomber struck first near the American Airlines desk at Brussels airport, with local media reporting that shots were fired amid shouting in Arabic.

The explosion on the Metro was near European Union buildings and the US embassy.

The European Union's political heart was on high alert after the explosion at metro stations near the 28-member bloc's main buildings in Brussels.

The European Commission's vice-president Kristalina Georgieva said meetings were cancelled and urged people to "stay home or inside buildings" following reports of an explosion at Maelbeek station.

The metro station is close to the commission's Berlaymont headquarters, the European Parliament and the European Council's Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital.

A European Council tweet said: "Closely monitoring the situation. All meetings cancelled this morning. Priority to ensure safety of staff & visitors."

Armed patrols had been a frequent sight around the EU institutions in recent months, following security alerts in the wake of the Paris attacks and some of the roads around the buildings have been closed.

A spokesman for travel organisation Abta said British holidaymakers in Brussels should follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities, while those due to travel should contact their transport provider.

He added that although Belgium is a popular destination for UK visitors, March is "one of the quieter months for leisure travel".

Brussels Airport issued a statement confirming that all flights had been cancelled for the rest of the day.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Passengers are advised to contact their airline for further instructions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for Brussels.

It issued a statement which read: "You should stay away from crowded places and avoid public transport at this time."

British officials in the city have been given the same instructions, the FCO said.

Speaking from Westminster today, Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “I share the sense of outrage and horror following this morning’s heinous acts of terrorism in Brussels.

“On behalf of the people of Keighley and Ilkley, I wish to express sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and absolute support for the many who have been injured.

“The evil individuals behind these cowardly attacks want to destroy our way of life. But they have underestimated us and will not prevail.

“I would encourage anyone who has planned a trip away over the Easter period to be vigilant and understand the need for increased security at transport hubs. 

“The UK Government and our security agencies are working closely with our European partners on all of these matters to ensure that people are properly protected.”