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Home News Belgian lawmakers probe failure to avert Brussels attacks

Belgian lawmakers probe failure to avert Brussels attacks

Published on 22/04/2016

Belgian lawmakers vowed Friday to probe how Belgium failed to thwart the Brussels bombings months after attacks in Paris, as they visited the targeted metro station before it reopens next week.

The parliament’s commission of inquiry visited the two scenes of last month’s attacks — Maalbeek station and Brussels Airport — as part of a mission to shed light by year-end on the attacks in both capitals that were allegedly carried out by the same Islamic State cell.

The panel wants to find out “the way in which Belgium had prepared since the (November) Paris attacks to try to avoid the same tragedy,” panel member Laurette Onkelex said.

It must “shed light eventually on responsibilities, but also make recommendations and improve our security architecture,” Onkelex said before workers complete repairs to the station later Friday.

Brussels public transport service spokeswoman Francoise Ledune told AFP that Maelbeek station will resume service Monday from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm, like the rest of the network which is still closing two hours earlier than previously.

Maelbeek station has been closed since Khalid El-Bakraoui detonated a bomb at 9:11 am on March 22 that killed 16 people on a train, part of coordinated attacks that hit the airport in Zaventem neighbourhood just over an hour earlier.

One of the station’s eight tiled portraits by artist Benoit van Innis remains damaged and will be covered up. The same artist is now working on a project to commemorate the massacre that is due to be completed in June, Ledune said.

– ‘Remembrance wall’ –

“In the meantime, we plan to set aside a remembrance wall where people can leave messages, words of hope,” she added.

Officials quoted by the media said trains resumed service on Friday to Brussels airport, which the authorities had halted because it led to the damaged terminal.

Brussels airport is set to resume full operations in June after it was closed to passengers for 12 days following the attack and then began gradually to restore service.

The airport bombings were carried out by Khalid’s brother Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui — the alleged bombmaker for the November 13 Paris attacks.

Laachraoui has also been identified by several Frenchmen held hostage by Islamic State in Syria as one of their prison guards, sources close to the investigation said.

Police earlier this month arrested Mohamed Abrini, who confessed to being the “man in the hat” caught on video with the two airport bombers and who allegedly was preparing to detonate a third bomb before fleeing the scene.

The authorities have also arrested Swedish national Osama Krayem and charged him in connection with both the Brussels and Paris attacks.

He was filmed on CCTV talking to Khalid El Bakraoui minutes before the bomb went off.