Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Ask for Prayers After ISIS Terror Attack Kills 34 in Brussels

Terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium
People leave the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. |

Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury called for prayers Tuesday after 34 were killed and at least 180 injured in terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium.

The Vatican's secretary of state released a statement on behalf of the pope to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Bruxelles, saying the pontiff will pray for the victims of this "blind violence."

"Having learned of the attacks in Brussels, affecting many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts the deceased to God's mercy and joins in prayer in the suffering of their relatives," the statement said, adding that the pope "expresses his deepest sympathy for the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to the rescue operations, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in their ordeal."

"The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering, and imploring of God the gift of peace, he invokes for the bereaved families and the Belgian people the consolation of divine blessings," the statement added.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also decried the violence in a Facebook post, writing that the attacks "shock all those who seek peace and justice through the terrible cruelty and utter separation from all that is of God."

"Once again we see the contrast between the vain efforts to terrify through indiscriminate murder, and the call of God to be those who show mercy, who seek peace and pursue it," Welby continued. "Let us at every service this week pray for those caught up in the traumatic events at the airport and in the city of Brussels."

The attacks took place during rush hour Tuesday morning at the Maelbeek metro station and Brussels' international airport, where 34 people were killed and 180 injured, with numbers expected to rise.

The Islamic State terrorist group told Amaq news agency that it was responsible for Tuesday's attack, USA Today reports.

The first attack took place at around 8 a.m. in the departures area of the airport, where a suicide bomber reportedly yelled a phrase in Arabic before detonating his device. Moments later, a second explosion took place near the first.

At around 9 a.m., a third explosion occurred on a train at the Maalbeek metro station.

"We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said in a statement, as reported by CNN.

The attacks come after terrorist Salah Abdeslam was arrested by authorities in Belgium Friday. Abdeslam is believed to have been the mastermind and only survivor of the Paris terror attacks last November that killed 130 people.

President Obama addressed the attacks from Cuba, where he is with a delegation meeting Raul Castro, saying the U.S. "[stands] in solidarity" with Belgium, adding he will "do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those responsible."

"We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism," the president continued. "We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world."

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