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US increasing security measures after Brussels attacks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A US security officer and his dog monitor travelers as they enter the San Francisco International Airport. (AP)

The United States is stepping up security measures at airports in the wake of the deadly bombings in the Belgian capital city of Brussels that killed dozens of people late last month, says the country’s top transportation security official.

Peter Neffenger, head of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said over the weekend that US airports needed to do much more in order to prevent such attacks as the triple bombings that rocked an airport and a metro station in Brussels on March 22, killing at least 32 people.

“There are some things you have to do after Brussels, and one of them is to realize that public areas of the world are vulnerable, by definition,” Neffenger said.

The official hinted at a much more visible police presence at airports during the summer, when near-record numbers of passengers are expected to choose air travel as their favorite means of transport.

More random searches upon entrance to airports and passing through checkpoints into secure boarding areas were also awaiting travelers, he further noted.

Local law enforcement officers were also instructed to perform random checks of cars and taxis heading toward the airport, while extending the security perimeter around airports was also a possibility, Neffenger said.

Neffenger made the comments two days after being grilled over airport security during a Senate hearing.

A picture shows damage to the facade of Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, after two explosions in the airport, March 22, 2016. (AFP photo)

The meeting prompted the Senate to pass a series of measures on Thursday to step up the vetting of airport workers and expand the number of TSA viper teams who are tasked with unannounced inspections to airports in order to stop and search suspicious people.

The number of TSA’s bomb-sniffing dogs was also doubled after the hearing.

One of the two explosions that ripped through the Brussels airport on March 22 was believed to have occurred near the American Airlines check-in desk at around 8 am local time (0700 GMT).

FBI warns of cyber attacks on power grid

Meanwhile, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also warned infrastructure companies about the threat of cyber attacks on the country’s national power grid.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have launched a nationwide program to raise awareness of possible attacks as well as techniques used by hackers.


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