Bay Area residents close to Brussels react to attacks

BRUSSELS (KGO) -- The images coming out of Brussels after the deadly bombings are especially painful to those who are from there.

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Administrators at UC Berkeley report three students studying abroad in Brussels have been contacted and are all safe.

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Many others in the Bay Area also have close ties to the Belgian capital.

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"We're devastated. Just called my mom, she was crying on the phone," Professor Jeroen DeWulf, Director of UC Berkeley's Institute of European Studies, said.

"Brussels is being seen, at least certain neighborhoods in Brussels, are being seen as the capital of Jihad. And now with those terrorist attacks, this is really devastating for the image of Brussels for sure," DeWulf said.

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Samuel Mareel, a former visiting scholar at Cal, spoke to ABC7 News by telephone. He was in Brussels Monday night.

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"It was very peaceful and quiet last night," he said. "There was a sort of general feeling of relief after the terrorist was captured. And then all of a sudden, you have these images on TV, you recognize the space, but it's totally devastated. You have all these people lying on the floor and the rubble. It's very surreal."

Now both men worry about how the terrorist attacks will change the city they love, long known for its diversity and peaceful, even laid-back atmosphere.
"Everyone was pretty much aware that something could happen. But still when you see the images, this is very surprising. The impact and the power they have, and the strength they have," DeWulf said.

For full coverage of the attacks in Brussels, click here.
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