Brussels airport remains closed as police threaten strike

Brussels airport remained closed on Friday, 10 days after suicide bomb attacks that killed over 30 in the capital, as police unions blocked the resumption of operations, demanding additional security measures, a media report said.

It said that on March 22, two attackers blew themselves up in the departure hall of the Brussels Zaventem airport, while a third set off an explosion at a subway station in town.

It said that the attacks killed 32 people, which the Islamic State extremist claimed responsibility.

Further damage was caused when another device later exploded at the airport, once bomb disposal experts were on the scene; nobody was injured in that blast.

It noted that the airport had since set up a temporary check-in area and was given operational go-ahead on Wednesday, following extensive safety checks and passenger simulations.

“But a row with police unions over airport security was delaying the political approval for operations to resume,’’ it reported.

The syndic lists had demanded that anyone entering the airport building should undergo security checks.

The country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Kris Peeters, said the government would not allow the airport to reopen until the Interior Ministry had reached an agreement with the unions, following a three-hour meeting of the National Security Council.

Peeters said it would not be possible to reopen the airport even on Saturday.

The national Security Council includes the ministers responsible for security matters and officials from intelligence services.

Earlier this week, airport police complained in an open letter about poor security at Zaventem, pointing among other things to a lack of checks on people and baggage entering the airport building.

The report said they wrote that no fewer than 50 Islamic State sympathisers worked in the airport and had security badges.

Police unions argued in a separate letter that the authorities had “failed in their duty to offer a safe workplace to employees,” threatening strike action if security is not improved.

Meanwhile, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon is currently in Washington, attending a summit on nuclear security. (dpa/NAN)


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