French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for tighter security on the European Union's external borders Wednesday, less than 24 hours after three bomb blasts in Brussels, carried out by the Islamic State group, killed 34 and injured hundreds more. The explosions, which took place at city’s airport and in the subway, are believed to be linked to the same network responsible for November’s Paris attacks and shed light on the EU's porous borders and liberal refugee policy, said Valls.
"There is an urgent need to strengthen the external borders of the European Union," Manuel Valls told French radio. "Thirty people have been identified as linked to the Paris attacks. Eleven are dead, 12 are under lock and key and others are still wanted.”
Valls has called for the adoption of a Europewide system to track airline passenger names, while also advocating for stricter border controls on countries on the outskirts of the 28-member bloc. Since the European refugee crisis peaked in 2015, the continent has welcomed more than a million people seeking asylum. The sheer level of the migration has placed severe pressure on many country’s asylum systems and security services.
Two of the suicide bombers have been confirmed as Belgian nationals and are believed to belong to the same network responsible for the Nov. 13 bomb and gun assaults in Paris that killed 130 people. Fake Syrian passports were discovered near and on the bodies of the Paris attackers. Other suspects are believed to have entered the country posing as Syrian refugees, bringing Valls to the conclusion that the attacks in Paris and now Brussels were planned in the Middle East.
"These attacks are organized from Syria ... with a base, it is obvious, in Belgium but also in France," said Valls.
By the most recent count, 10 people were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels' international airport, while 24 people died and 130 were wounded at the Maelbeek metro station.
The attacks came just days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the final suspect from the Paris attacks, after a four-month manhunt.