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Saturday 24 June 2017

Belgian king and queen join commemorations on anniversary of suicide attacks

Belgium's King Philippe, center, and Queen Mathilde, left, arrive for a one-year anniversary service of the March 22, 2016 suicide bomb attacks at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the bomb attacks on the airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Belgium's King Philippe, center, and Queen Mathilde, left, arrive for a one-year anniversary service of the March 22, 2016 suicide bomb attacks at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the bomb attacks on the airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Brussels, March 23, 2016: Armed soldiers guard the entrance to Brussels Central Station after terrorist attacks at Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro Station. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
A view of the scene outside Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels, following terrorist attacks in the city. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Damage is seen inside the departure terminal following the March 22, 2016 bombing at Zaventem Airport
A vigil for Brussels attacks. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Belgium's King Philippe has urged citizens to "be tender" to each other after the "deadly madness" that led three bombers to kill 32 people at Brussels airport and subway a year ago.

Marking the anniversary of the suicide attacks, in which more than 300 people were injured, the King paid tribute to the victims in ceremonies timed with the blasts during the morning rush hour on March 22 2016.

"It's the responsibility of each and every one of us to make our society more humane, and more just. Let's learn to listen to each other again, to respect each other's weaknesses," he said, as a new monument was unveiled to the victims in the Belgian capital's European quarter.

"Above all, let us dare to be tender," he said.

Belgium's King Philippe lays a wreath during a ceremony in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of twin attacks at Brussels airport and a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
Belgium's King Philippe lays a wreath during a ceremony in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of twin attacks at Brussels airport and a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
Belgium King Philippe and Queen Mathilde speak with victims and their relatives during a ceremony in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of twin attacks at Brussels airport and a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
Belgium Queen Mathilde speaks with victims and their relatives during a ceremony in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of twin attacks at Brussels airport and a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attend the one-year anniversary service at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway are marking the first anniversary of the attacks, which killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 others. Photo: Didier Lebrun/Pool via AP
Queen Mathilde attends the one-year anniversary service at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway are marking the first anniversary of the attacks, which killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 others. Photo: Didier Lebrun/Pool via AP
Sarah Esmael Fazal, sister of Sabrina Fazal who was killed in the attacks, delivers a speech during a ceremony in Brussels to commemorate the first anniversary of twin attacks at Brussels airport and a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
Belgian former professional basketball player Sebastien Bellin and his wife attend the one-year anniversary service at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway are marking the first anniversary of the attacks, which killed 32 people and wounded more than 300 others. Photo: Didier Lebrun/Pool via AP
Belgium's King Philippe, center, and Queen Mathilde, left, arrive for a one-year anniversary service of the March 22, 2016 suicide bomb attacks at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the bomb attacks on the airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
People observe a minute of silence near a memorial during a one-year anniversary service of the March 22, 2016 suicide bomb attacks at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the bomb attacks on the airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
People observe a minute of silence near a memorial, marking a one-year anniversary of the March 22 suicide bomb attacks, at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday.Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
A woman walks by a memorial just after a one-year anniversary service of the March 22, 2016 suicide bomb attacks at Zaventem Airport in Brussels on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Belgian leaders, victims and families of those who died in the bomb attacks on the airport and subway marked the anniversary of the assaults which killed 32 people in ceremonies Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Earlier, at Brussels Zaventem airport, the King and Queen Mathilde joined Prime Minister Charles Michel and government ministers in a minute's silence outside the departure hall where two suicide bombers blew themselves up.

A third man, suspected accomplice Mohamed Abrini, is awaiting trial.

Airport staff, security and rescue personnel watchED as the names of those who died were read out, accompanied by a single cello.

Inside the departure hall, a large wreath lay in a cordoned-off area.

In moving testimony, Lars Waetzmann, who was wounded and whose wife Jennifer died at the airport, told of how he has been plagued by questions, but also warmed by simple gestures since the tragedy.

"What if we had left 10 minutes later? What if we moved a little slower? What if?" he said. "In a split second our world changed."

"On the 22nd of March, 2016, we have seen the worst but also the best of mankind," he said.

Around 900 people now number themselves among the victims to have suffered physical or mental trauma in the attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group.

Commemorations also took place at the Maelbeek subway station, where 16 people were killed.

Belgium has remained on its second-highest alert level since the bombings a year ago, meaning that the threat of an attack is possible and likely but not immediate. Soldiers continue to guard key buildings and transport links, and conduct random patrols in public areas.

City Mayor Yvan Mayeur said that "people from Brussels reacted well, citizens showed that we must keep on living, that there is a will to live, and that life must not change, together with our values and way of life. I think that is important".

Belfast Telegraph

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