The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Watch: Brussels attacks - No threat against Malta but security at airport, seaport stepped up

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 22 March 2016, 11:25 Last update: about 4 years ago

Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela said this morning that while there were no threats against Malta and the threat level had not been raised, security has been beefed up at the airport and the seaports.

Speaking to journalists after the inauguration of Malta Red Cross National Disaster Preparedness Hub in Pembroke, Mr Abela said the government was shocked by this morning’s terror attacks in Brussels.

He said the condition of Maltese national Lorenzo Vella was stable and his wife was unhurt in the airport blasts. Mr Vella is receiving medical care. No other Maltese were injured or present at the sites of the blast.

The Home Affairs Minister said there was no cause for alarm in Malta but security was stepped up to put people’s minds at rest. He said more police RIU units as well as a K9 unit were deployed at the airport.

The government, he said, was closely following developments in Belgium.

He said that, while no country could be 100% safe against terrorism, European countries should step up intelligence sharing.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Chris Fearne expressed solidarity with Mr Vella. He said the Brussels terror attacks were an attack “against us all” and said this time it was closer to home. 

 

Emergency lines set up 

In a statement this morning the Government of Malta said it was deeply shocked by the terrorist attacks carried out early this morning in Brussels, Belgium. It condemned in the most categorical terms this despicable act and expresses its profound sorrow at the loss of lives and sympathy with the injured.

From information gathered to date one Maltese national was slightly injured in the blast. As reported in our main story, he is Lorenzo Vella who was is being treated in a military hospital.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is in touch with Maltese nationals in Brussels and is following closely all developments.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has set up two emergency lines which will be manned 24 hours till further notice:

Calls from Malta:             8007 2203 (FREEPHONE)

Calls from abroad:          +356 2204 2200

Helpline in Brussels:       +32 (0) 22 38 36 08

Until further notice, Maltese nationals are advised to abide by the instructions of the Belgian authorities and limit their movements within the city.

The Maltese government is not aware of any threat on the Maltese Islands, however under the prevailing circumstances the Maltese authorities are stepping up security precautions.

'I am with you in spirit' - President 

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca expressed her sorrow at this morning’s atrocities in Belgium. She condemned all forms of terrorism, including the recent attack in Istanbul, Turkey. Mrs Coleiro Preca also expressed her solidarity with Mr Vella, his relatives and all Maltese who live and work in Brussels.

“I am with you in spirit through my thoughts and prayers,” she said.

The President is in continuous contact with the Maltese authorities and the embassy in Belgium. She appealed to the public to use the numbers provided by the Foreign Affairs Ministry for information.

Opposition Leader in contact with PM

In a statement the Nationalist Party said it was shocked by this morning’s attacks in the EU capital.  Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil said this moment should bring us together not only as Maltese but also as Europeans. “We cannot keep letting fear take over life,” Dr Busuttil said.

The PN said this was not an isolated event and referred to the recent attack in Istanbul. The PN said Dr Busuttil was in contact with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who had updated him about the Maltese nationals living in Brussels. Dr Busuttil also contacted injured Maltese national Lorenzo Vella and wished him a speedy recovery.

 

'Threat against humanity' 

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Malta categorically condemned the terrorist attacks. ”We are shocked and saddened to hear of today's terror attacks in Belgium. The innocent victims of these barbaric attacks and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. We hope the perpetrators of these evil attacks are swiftly brought to justice. We stand united with the Belgian people. We are in solidarity with the Belgium government and its people. We stand united against every kind of violence, extremism, bloodshed and terrorism,” it said in a statement.  

 ”Terrorism has become one of the biggest threats of the current times, and it sees no borders and does not spare any person, including children, women and elderly people. It seems that the entire humanity is under threat. It is time for the entire world, irrespective of faith, colour, creed or nationality, to unite together against such atrocities. It is crucial time to take concrete measures and bold steps collectively – with collective wisdom and efforts – to fight back the curse of terrorism. Together we can win this war against humanity.”

 

Video and photo: Jonathan Borg

 

 

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