Belgium falls silent one year after Brussels attacks
BRUSSELS – Agence France-PresseBelgium observed a moment of silence on March 22 to mark the first anniversary of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) bombings in Brussels, beginning a day of emotional ceremonies designed to show that the heart of Europe stands defiant.
A somber King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, along with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and other ministers, lined up quietly at 7:58 a.m. (6:58 a.m. GMT) outside the renovated Zaventem Airport to mark the exact time when two suicide bombers killed 16 people and wounded many more at the site.
During the airport ceremony, a woman clutched white roses as Eddy Van Calster, the brother of airport check-in agent Fabienne Van Steenkiste, who was killed in the attack, played a rock ballad in tribute.
As hundreds of people including victims’ family members and rescue workers looked on, an airport official read out all of the names of all of the victims. “March 22 2016, will forever be in our hearts...we stand here united,” the official said.
The royals led a second moment of silence at 9:11 a.m. at Maalbeek subway station to mark the moment a third suicide bomber killed another 16 people on a crowded train.
More than 320 people were wounded in both attacks.
A year on, Belgium remains on high alert with troops patrolling the streets and warnings of fresh risks from ISIL jihadists returning home from Iraq and Syria.
Investigators say the blasts were carried out by a network that was also behind the November 2015 Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed, and acted on orders from the ISIL high command.