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Brussels airport departure hall partly reopens following attacks

With a heavy security presence, the departure hall at Brussels' Zaventem airport has partially reopened. The move comes 40 days after two suicide bombs killed 16 people and destroyed part of the building.

"We are back to the familiar scene of our passengers in the departure hall," said Arnaud Feist, head of Brussels Airport, which runs Zaventem, at a somber ceremony on Sunday to mark the occasion.

Belgian flags were displayed on either side of a small stage where the date of the attacks and the names of the victims could be read, alongside messages in several languages such as "Violence will never be the answer."

Around 400 passengers were able to check in for three flights, symbolically chosen from only Belgian airlines and headed to sunny destinations like Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Lisbon.

The whole airport was closed for 12 days following the attacks, which also saw another 16 people killed at a metro station in the Belgian capital. The departures' hall is expected to slowly reopen until June, when it is scheduled to return to full capacity.

The March 22 violence was claimed by "Islamic State" (IS) militants, carried out by European nationals of Moroccan and Syrian descent. One of the suspected attackers, Najim Laachraoui, was a childhood friend of

Salah Adbeslam, who is accused of helping plan the 2015 terrorist attacks

in Paris.

es/rc (AFP, AP)

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