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(3rd LD) S. Korea condemns Brussels attacks

All Headlines 00:54 March 23, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with government statement, latest toll, EDITS to conform throughout)

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday condemned the twin attacks in Brussels that killed dozens of people as it took emergency steps to determine any casualties among its nationals abroad.

Earlier in the day, a series of blasts hit the Brussels airport and a metro station in the city, killing at least 34 people and injuring more than 200 others, according to news reports. The attacks came days after a suspect in last year's Paris terrorist bombings was arrested in the Belgian capital.

"The government is shocked and concerned over the fact that a number of innocent lives were lost in the simultaneous multiple terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, on March 22, and strongly condemns the terrorist act," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said in a statement.

Cho also offered condolences and sympathy to the victims, their families and the Belgian government.

"Under its firm position that terrorism is a crime against humanity that cannot be justified under any circumstances, the government strongly supports the efforts of the Belgian government to respond to terrorism, and will take an active part in the efforts of the international community to eradicate terrorism," he said.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Foreign Minister for Overseas Koreans Lee Key-cheol presided over an emergency government meeting that brought together officials from his ministry, the presidential office, the national police agency and other relevant departments.

"We strongly condemn this terrorist (attack) and extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and the Belgian government," Lee said. "This incident, like the Paris terrorist attack, is an indiscriminate attack on innocent civilians."

Lee urged South Koreans overseas to pay special attention to their safety, saying no place in the world is free from the threat of terrorism.

Officials here said the government has been contacting Belgian authorities and using its emergency contact network to check whether any South Koreans were hurt in the blasts. So far, no South Korean casualties have been reported.

The National Intelligence Service, in cooperation with relevant government ministries, has also put the country's airport, port and railway systems on full alert, Lee said.

hague@yna.co.kr
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