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Memorials to be held on fifth anniversary of terrorist attacks

08:11 21/03/2021
The public is invited to watch the three ceremonies live on 22 March

Monday, 22 March, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took 32 lives at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station. The morning of 22 March 2016 saw two suicide bombers hit the airport’s departure hall and one detonate his bomb on a metro train as it was departing from Maelbeek station in the EU quarter.

Shortly before 8.00, Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui blew themselves up in the departures hall of Brussels Airport in Zaventem, killing 16 people. An hour later, Khalid El Bakraoui, Ibrahim's brother, detonated his bomb in a metro train that had just left the Maelbeek station. Sixteen people also died in that attack. Nearly 350 people were injured.

Earlier this year, the Brussels Council Chamber ruled that 10 of the 13 suspects accused of aiding and abetting the three suicide bombers would stand trial. The date of the trial is not yet known.

Broadcast and livestreamed

Memorials will be held on Monday at both the airport and metro station, with a moment of silence at the moment the bombs went off. Later, at 12.15, a commemoration ceremony will be held at the monument to victims of terrorist attacks on Rue de la Loi.

Because of corona regulations, the memorials are by invitation only, with officials, victims who were injured and families of the deceased present. Both the prime minister and the king and queen will be present at the commemorations.

All memorials will, however, be broadcast live on several television networks, including RTBF, RTL, VRT and VTM. They can also be followed live on the 22-03 website. That website also provides information about an online Circle Ritual at 17.00 on Monday.

According to insurance association Assuralia, some €50 million has been paid in compensation to more than 1,400 people affected by the terrorist attacks, from simple claims of lost luggage to medical bills for seriously injured patients.

A Brussels lawyer, however, who survived the attack in Maelbeek is suing the government for negligence in the aftermath of the attacks.

Photo: A river of flowers flowed down Boulevard Anspach in the days that followed the 2016 attacks
©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA


Written by Lisa Bradshaw