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The King and Queen of Belgium commemorate the Brussels attacks

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Victims’ representatives and others hold flowers and photos at Brussels Airport during events marking the fifth anniversary of the Brussels terrorist attacks in Brussels on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool through AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) The King and Queen of Belgium paid tribute Monday to the victims of suicide attacks that killed 32 people and injured hundreds more on the Brussels metro and airport exactly five years ago.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde began the commemorations at Brussels airport along with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. They met with the victims and their relatives after Philippe laid flowers in front of a memorial plaque.

They continued their journey to Maelbeek metro station in central Brussels, observing another moment of silence at 9:11 a.m. (0811 GMT), the exact time when the explosion occurred on a subway train near the city’s European Union buildings. .

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

Among those to be tried are Salah Abdeslam, who is also suspected of playing a major role in the Paris attacks, and Mohamed Abrini, a Brussels native who fled Brussels’ Zaventem airport after his explosives failed to explode. No date has yet been set for the trial.

Abdeslam was arrested in Brussels on March 18, 2016, and his arrest may have prompted other members of a cell of the Islamic State group to stage a planned attack. Four days later, suicide bombers detonated their explosives at Brussels airport and subway during rush hour.

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

About 900 people suffered physical or mental trauma in the Brussels attacks, which were claimed by IS.

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