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'Symbolic Flights' Set for Brussels Airport After Attacks

  • VOA News

Belgian policemen and soldiers secure the area outside Zaventem Airport in Brussels, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Tuesday, airport authorities inspected the construction and fire safety of the temporary constructions and airport staff tested the temporary arrangements and infrastructure for the check-in procedure. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Belgian policemen and soldiers secure the area outside Zaventem Airport in Brussels, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Tuesday, airport authorities inspected the construction and fire safety of the temporary constructions and airport staff tested the temporary arrangements and infrastructure for the check-in procedure. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Flights are set to resume on a limited basis Sunday at the airport in Brussels where suicide bombers carried out a deadly attack nearly two weeks ago.

The blasts there and at a nearby metro station killed 32 people and destroyed the airport's departure area.

Three Brussels Airlines flights are scheduled to depart Sunday evening. The airport is calling them "symbolic flights" with more to be added in the coming days.

"A restart of the operations, even only partially, as quick as this is a sign of hope that shows our shared will, and our strength to resurface and not to let our heads down," Brussels Airport Company CEO Arnaud Feist said Saturday.

Feist also announced temporary repair work and security features that will be used at the airport as it works toward a return to full operation, which will take months.

Belgian police complained about what they said had been lax security at the airport and threatened to strike unless certain measures were taken, but have reached an agreement with the government.

Belgian police made several arrests Saturday following a tense confrontation between right-wing protesters and anti-racist youth in Brussels.

Police secure a zone around a police bus for detained people, at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Belgium, April 2, 2016.

Police secure a zone around a police bus for detained people, at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Belgium, April 2, 2016.

A far-right group had planned a demonstration in Molenbeek, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood where a number of the November 2015 Paris attackers had been based. An anti-racist group had called for a counterdemonstration.

Both groups were banned by local authorities, who feared a repeat of last Sunday's disturbance when police fired water cannons to break up about 450 protesters.

Belgian soldiers keep guard outside a metro station during tensions between police and residents, in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, April 2, 2016.

Belgian soldiers keep guard outside a metro station during tensions between police and residents, in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, April 2, 2016.

Belgian television showed some 30 far-right marchers in a suburb of Brussels, holding a banner reading: "This is our country."

Deal with police unions

The Belgian government reached a deal with police unions late Friday after they threatened to strike unless certain security measures were taken.

Belgian police had complained about what they said was lax security at the airport.

Union leaders demanded that all passengers go through security checks outside the temporary check-in area. But airport operators said this would create very long lines and set up an easy target for another terrorist attack.

Under the agreement, passengers and others will be checked before entering the airport zone itself.

More than 2,000 mourners packed a Brussels mosque Friday for the funeral of one of the terrorist victims, Loubna Lafquiri. The young gymnastics teacher and mother of three was killed at the metro station.

Some of the mourners said they had come to her funeral as a sign of solidarity with victims of all faiths. They said they could not understand why any Muslim would want to take innocent lives.

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