Within four days, Brussels captured Europe's most wanted man and then suffered a massive terrorist attack. Under tough scrutiny, Belgium says it's doing its best. Kathleen Schuster reports from Brussels.
Just when life in Brussels seems normal again, the blue of Belgian police uniforms - or camouflaged soldiers carrying assault rifles, or a huge army truck parked next to a row of compact European cars - come into view.
This adds to a general sense on the streets of the Belgian capital that Tuesday's attacks are just the beginning of months, perhaps years of violence. Worse still, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Belgian government of failing to act on terrorism warnings against Ibrahim El-Bakraoui, one of the suspected suicide bombers at Brussels Airport.
Brussels denies that it responded inadequately to the threat. And many people in the Belgian capital on Thursday agreed the government was not at fault.
"Once people get it into their minds that they're going to kill people, you can't stop them," Wouter Torbeyns, a political science student, told DW.
Sitting on the curb next to him, his Portuguese friend, who arrived at the airport in Zavantem one day before the bombings, agrees.
"There is so much policing here, so many people with guns in the streets and it still happens, so I don't think there's a proper solution for it," Teresa Carrasquinho said, adding: "No, there's no solution for it."
A few blocks away, police pat down commuters and check their bags before allowing them to descend the escalator into the underground. Even the line that was bombed at Maelbeek station is running today, though its cars streak past many empty stops whose platforms await the return of lights and passengers.
A 20-something Belgian, who goes simply by the name of Nathan, grimaces at the security checks to his left as he exits the subway, and says it's unclear what the government should do to combat terrorism. But, needing an hour to travel a line that usually takes 10 minutes is a sign that the measures are "too much."
People look worried, Nathan says, but the likelihood of another bombing sooner than in "a few months" is low.
Brussels is still in shock over the attacks. Missing persons posters have begun appearing around the city
But details of the suspects in Tuesday's attacks - for example, that not only had two of the suicide bombers been wanted by Belgian police in connection with the Paris attacks since November, but they had also been in the same Forest apartment as Abdeslam last week - only further confirmed others' view of Belgium as the "world's wealthiest failed state."
"It seems all or nothing here," Simon Harris, a UK citizen and Brussels resident for the last nine months, told DW. "It's a badly organized city run by 19 mayors and six police forces, nobody talks to one another and I just think it's very sad."
The police response was questionable on Tuesday, Harris said. "Why did it take an hour between the two explosions? Why wasn't the metro shut down?"
Yet he, like others, says that the terrorists' determination to kill raises a problem for security officials everywhere.
It wouldn't matter if he moved, he says: "They're going to get me anywhere I go."