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Brussels airport expected to reopen with tightened perimeter security

Bomb-damaged Brussels Airport is reportedly on track to reopen. Authorities have apparently reached a deal with police union representatives on introducing tighter security following the suicide attacks.

Brussels Zaventem Airport will reportedly have tighter security measures when it reopens as early as Sunday, the Belga news agency reported.

The facility has been closed since the March 22 suicide bombings there that killed 32 people in the Belgian capital. The so-called "Islamic State" (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Further damage was caused when another device was discovered and detonated at the airport, once bomb disposal experts were on the scene. Nobody was injured in that blast.

Watch video 12:07

Brussels after the Terror Attacks

The airport has since set up a temporary check-in area, where extensive safety checks and passenger-processing simulations have been tested. There was no official timetable announced for operations to resume, but flights are expected to begin on April 3, running initially at about 20 percent of the airport's previous capacity.

Policing the police

Police unions demanding additional security measures at the entrances of the airport building have been blocking the resumption of operations. Belga reported that union representatives and Interior Ministry officials have agreed to introduce closer inspection of passengers and luggage arriving at the airport.

Brussels airport checks

Additional security measures will see everyone's bags checked upon arrival at the terminal building

The row with police unions had considerably delayed the official approval for operations to resume, with the prospect of a police strike threatening to further delay the reopening of the airport.

Police had also asked for an additional 200 staff members to be hired in time for the reopening. It remains for the unions and the ministry to find common ground to resolve that issue.

Belgian media meanwhile also reported that airport police had claimed in a letter that at least 50 Islamic State sympathizers were working in the airport and had security badges. The report has not been independently verified.

ss/jm (dpa, AP, AFP)

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