Brussels attempts to absorb shock of terrorist attacks

As the government urges citizens to remain calm and continue as normal, Brussels begins process of returning to normal, writes Colin Mackay.

By Colin Mackay

23 Mar 2016

Twenty Four hours after the attacks at Zaventem and Maelbeek, Brussels is attempting to carry on life as usual.

However, it will clearly take some time before the citizens of Brussels – whether Belgian or not – feel their city has returned to its standard, slightly chaotic, ambience.

However, this will prove difficult. Although buses trains and trams were running, the airport and large parts of the metro network remain closed. In addition, many shops and restaurant remain closed, and are likely to do so until Belgium’s three official days of mourning are over.


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Although citizens have become used to armed troops on the streets, since the lockdown a few months ago, now it appears different.

Seeing soldiers with submachine guns at the few suburban metro station that had reopened was jarring, particularly in the knowledge that this was now about more than a show of strength.

Roads from the east of the city – where many of the EU quarter commuters live – had heavy traffic, but it was subdued and caused by the disruption to transport infrastructure caused by the attacks.

Elsewhere, for travellers the outlying areas, stations and trains were eerily empty and muted.

In many ways, the approaching Easter break adds to the surreal feeling. European schools have already broken up, and many EU officials will have left the city.

Whether their return in a few days time will add or detract to the restoration of normality remains to be seen.

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