LONDON: Five years since a bombing by Daesh killed 32 people in Belgium, the country and its royals have commemorated the occasion, paying tribute to the lives lost.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde laid a wreath in Maelbeek metro station in Brussels and held a minute’s silence at 9:11 a.m. — the exact time the bomb detonated on March 22, 2016.
They also met with survivors and their relatives at an airport in the city where two other Daesh suicide bombers detonated explosives that day.
The attacks, which left 32 dead and hundreds injured, remain Belgium’s worst atrocity since World War II.
Since the bombings, Belgian police and prosecutors have been piecing together the events of that day in an effort to bring those who assisted the terrorists to justice.
Earlier this year, 10 suspects were ordered to stand trial for their roles in the attacks, including Mohamed Abrini, who had traveled to the airport that day intent on detonating a suicide vest he was wearing, but which failed to explode.
Another is Salah Abdeslam, who was captured before the attacks in connection with the 2015 Paris Bataclan atrocities. It is speculated that his arrest prompted the remaining terrorists to bring forward their plan to attack Brussels.
The attacks prompted a diplomatic spat between Brussels and Ankara after it was revealed that one of the bombers had been deported from Turkey shortly before the attacks and had then slipped back into Belgium.