Belgium. The hunt for perpetrators of the terror attacks in Paris last autumn continued with great intensity at the beginning of the year. In mid-March, police raided an apartment in Brussels and shot dead a man who was allegedly involved in the killing. Three days later, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam and four others were arrested in the Molenbeek district. Abdeslam, who was called the most wanted person in Europe, was later extradited to France. The government raised alarm preparedness to the highest level of concern for new attacks. Shortly thereafter, on March 22, Brussels was shaken by two concerted assaults: at Zaventem International Airport and at Maelbeek Metro Station. A total of 32 people were killed, in addition to three suicide bombers, and more than 300 were injured in the death, which was described as the bloodiest in the country’s modern history.
After the attacks, three days of national grief were announced. Only after eleven days could the airport be reopened. After a couple of weeks, a fourth bomber was caught on surveillance cameras as well as a Swedish citizen. All involved must also have had links to the terrorist act in Paris.
According to countryaah, the current population of Belgium is 11,589,634. Criticism was directed at police and authorities as several warning signs of terrorists involved had been missed. A few ministers offered to resign, but remained. On the other hand, the Minister of Transport left his job after harsh criticism regarding the security at the airport. According to thereligionfaqs, considerable attention was paid to the fact that Belgium had the most residents who joined jihadist groups in the Middle East in relation to the size of the population, compared to other Western European countries.
The security situation remained tense. Several minor attacks with Islamist signs occurred and a number of suspected terrorists were arrested.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of BEL stands for the nation of Belgium in geography.
Germany and the Netherlands objected to a decision to extend the life of two 40-year-old nuclear reactors that, according to previous plans, would have been closed. The neighboring countries questioned the safety of Belgium’s two nuclear power plants since the operation was repeatedly stopped due to leaks and other disruptions. The government decided during the year that a new anti-terror police force from 2017 should monitor the nuclear power plants.
Wallonia shook the EU when the region’s parliament was in the process of stealing a free trade agreement with Canada, after seven years of negotiations. The agreement, CETA, was the most comprehensive EU agreement to date. Walloons wanted better guarantees regarding labor law and environmental and consumer protection. At the last moment, a compromise was reached and CETA was signed in Brussels at the end of October.