Brussels subway station damaged in suicide attack to reopen

FILE - In this Saturday, March 26, 2016 file photo, people stop and look at floral tributes placed outside the Maelbeek metro station, the scene of one of the bomb attacks on the Belgian capital, in Brussels. The subway station in the Belgian capital where a suicide bomber killed 16 people a month ago will reopen Monday, April 25, 2016. The Brussels regional transit authority, commonly known as the STIB, announced the reopening Friday, April 22 on social media. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, file)


BRUSSELS (AP) — The subway station in the Belgian capital where a suicide bomber killed 16 people a month ago will reopen Monday morning, the Brussels regional transit authority announced Friday.

The March 22 bomb attack aboard a Brussels Metro train during morning rush hour damaged the Maelbeek station and it has been closed since.

That same day, two other suicide bombers killed 16 more victims at Brussels Airport. The attacks, the most lethal to target Belgium since World War II, were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

On Friday, members of a commission looking into the attacks visited the Maelbeek station, located near the headquarters of the European Union. They laid a wreath in memory of the victims and toured the station.

Afterward, Commission Chairman Patrick Dewael praised police and rescue workers for their prompt response and said the effects of the blast in such a confined area must have been “gigantic.”

The commission, which is supposed to deliver a report by the end of the year, was scheduled to visit Brussels Airport later Friday.

No structural work was needed to get the Maelbeek station back in working order, but repairs to masonry, tiling and painting had to be performed, said An Van Hamme, communications manager for the greater Brussels transit authority STIB.

Belgian media said a “wall of memory” has also been installed so that when service resumes, subway riders can express their emotions by leaving written messages or drawings.

Maelbeek station should reopen at 6 a.m. Monday unless the government’s National Security Council decides otherwise, Van Hamme said. That will mean all stations of the Brussels Metro will be functioning again for the first time since the attacks, although trains are still running on a reduced 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule and the number of entrances and exits at each station has been limited.

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