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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

King and queen lead tributes amid commemorations over attacks in Brussels

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The king and queen of Belgium have paid tribute to the victims of the suicide bombings that killed 32 people and injured hundreds more in the Brussels subway and airport exactly five years ago.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde started the commemorations at Brussels airport alongside Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

They met victims and their relatives after the king laid flowers in front of a memorial plaque.

They continued their journey to the Maelbeek metro station in downtown Brussels, observing another moment of silence at 9.11am, the exact time that the explosion went off in a subway train close to the city’s European Union buildings.

Earlier this year, 10 people, including the lone known surviving suspect in the 2015 deadly Paris attacks, were ordered to stand trial in connection with the Brussels suicide bombings.

Among those to stand trial is Salah Abdeslam, who is also suspected of playing a major role in the Paris attacks, and Brussels native Mohamed Abrini. No date has yet been set for the trial.

Abdeslam was captured in Brussels on March 18 2016. Four days later, suicide bombers detonated their explosives in the Brussels airport and metro during the morning rush hour.

In Paris, a network of French and Belgian extremists killed 130 people in attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium and in bars and restaurants.

Around 900 people suffered physical or mental trauma in the Brussels attacks, which were claimed by so-called Islamic State.

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