European Union freedom of movement rules bear some responsibility for Tuesday explosions in Brussels, Ukip’s defence spokesperson has suggested.
Mike Hookem said the attacks illustrated that freedom of movement in the bloc was “a threat to our security”.
At least 13 people have reportedly been killed on Tuesday morning in two explosions at Zaventem international airport and one at Maalbeek metro station.
“I am appalled at the loss of life and injuries. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed and injured,” the MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber said.
“This horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security.”
Mr Hookem said 5,000 “jihadists” were “at large in the EU having slipped in from Syria” – citing concerns raised last month by the head of Europol Rob Wainwright.
“There are 94 returned jihadists currently living in Molenbeek, Brussels” he claimed.
“This fact alone should alert people to the fact that open borders are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.”
There is currently no intelligence to confirm whether the explosions were carried out by Belgian citizens or people coming from abroad.
The UK is not in the Schengen passportless area and still maintains border controls with other EU nations, despite EU citizens having the right to live and work in Britain.
Other parliamentarians took a different view to Ukip. Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope said he was in the European Parliament at the time of the explosion.
“[This attack] highlights need for pan European co-operation on counter terrorism,” he tweeted.
In December last year Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, said that the “idealised Schengen area” had led to “the free movement of Kalashnikovs” around Europe.
Belgium has raised its terror alert status to the highest level. The explosions come following the arrest in the city of Salah Abdeslam, who authorities allege to have been centrally involved in the Paris terrorist attacks of November last year.
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