Maelbeek metro station of Brussels terror attacks set to reopen on Monday

Maelbeek metro station in Brussels will reopen on Monday (April 25), following the Brussels attacks last month. PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) -The metro station where 16 people were killed in a series of terrorist attacks in Brussels in March will reopen on Monday, Brussels public transport officials said on Friday (April 22).

Maelbeek station, which is near the main European Union institution buildings, 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, killing another 16 people.

Maelbeek will resume service Monday from 6 am until 10 pm, like the rest of the network, the Brussels public transport service spokeswoman Francoise Ledune told AFP on Friday.

Reconstruction work will be completed Friday evening, Ledune added.

The airport, which suffered extensive damage when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departures hall, partially reopened about two weeks after the attacks and will be fully open in June, its chief executive said last week.

The Belgian parliament's commission of inquiry into the attacks is due Friday to visit both Maalbeek station and Brussels Airport as part of its mission to shed light on both attacks by the end of the year.

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.

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

Later Friday trains are also due to resume service to Brussels airport, which the authorities had halted because it led to the damaged terminal.

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

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.

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