US flags at half-staff to honor Brussels victims

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BRUSSELS (AP) — President Barack Obama has ordered that all American flags in the U.S. be flown at half-staff through Saturday out of respect for victims of the Brussels attack.

Obama said in a proclamation issued hours after Tuesday’s attacks that “the American people stand with the people of Brussels. We will do whatever it takes, working with nations and peoples around the world, to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, and to go after terrorists who threaten our people.”

At least 31 people were killed and nearly 190 wounded in the two airport bombings and another in the Brussels subway system.

Belgium’s interior minister says authorities knew that some kind of extremist act was being prepared in Europe but that they were surprised by the scale of the attacks in Brussels.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Tuesday that “it was always possible that more attacks could happen but we never could have imagined something of this scale.”

Jambon told RTL television that “we had no information about this, but we know that things were moving in Europe, in different countries, in France, in Germany, here.”

He said the Belgian authorities have no information about the planning of “any kind of action in Brussels at this time.”

Belgian federal prosecutors say a house search in the Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek has “led to the discovery of an explosive device containing among other things nails.”

Investigators also found chemical products and an Islamic State flag.

Their statement said that IS had claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels via a press agency but that this information still needs to be verified.

Prosecutors say it’s not possible at this stage to establish any links between the attacks Tuesday in Brussels and those in Paris on Nov. 13 that left 130 people dead.

Police in the Belgian capital are calling on people who may have filmed images from the attacks on the city airport and subway to help assist with their investigation.

Brussels police called in a statement late Tuesday for help from “anyone who has amateur film where the attackers may be in view and could help move their investigation forward.”

Prime Minister Charles Michel said the country will tighten security at its borders. He declared three days of national mourning after what he says were probably the most tragic attacks the country has seen in peacetime.

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