Brussels: World reacts with anger and grief

Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)

The global response to the attacks in Brussels has been anger and grief. World leaders have condemned the bombings and vowed to fight back.

Around the world there were signs of solidarity and sorrow, but sadly not shock.

There has always been this sense of dread that something might happen.

As the reality of yet another deadly terrorist attack in Europe sinks in, mourners gather to show their support. Hundreds took to the sidewalk at Place de la Bourse with chalk, leaving messages of defiance.

"It's a sad day for us," said one mourner. "Brussels is a fantastic place and I don't want anyone to destroy this beauty that we live with here."

It is a sentiment shared by the King of Belgium, who had sombre words for his country.

"March 22 will never again be a day like any other -- lives shattered, deep wounds," said King Philippe. "Our whole country shares the suffering."

From other world leaders there was a promise to help defeat those responsible.

"We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible," said US President Barack Obama. "This is yet another reminder that the world must unite."

"We need to stand together against these appalling terrorists and make sure they can never win," said UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

From Prime Minister John Key there was a warning for Kiwis currently in Europe.

"For all non-essential and tourist travel, we strongly suggest people don't go to Belgium at the moment," said Mr Key. "We're obviously encouraging people to be very vigilant."

But Kiwi Tess Martin is refusing to be afraid. Less than 24 hours after the attacks, she was out with friends at a church-turned-theatre. Just being there was an act of strength.

"There's just this darkness that comes over Brussels and you really feel it, like, whew, this heaviness," she said.

She was home when the attacks happened, but said she had been on alert for weeks.

"I take the metro four, five times a week. I'm like, 'Oh yeah, there's a backpack'. It does change the way you live your daily life."

Some Euro-sceptics are using these attacks as another chance to question the Schengen, visa-free travel, calling it a welcome sign for terrorists. But most European leaders agree now is not the time for that sort of talk; now is the time for solidarity with Brussels.