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Belgian Authorities Arrest Protesters; Airport To Reopen

Police detain a group of people at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Belgium, Saturday. Authorities had banned all marches in Brussels after a far-right group announced its plans to hold an anti-Muslim rally in the city.

More than a week after the terrorist attacks on Brussels, protesters from the left and right are defying a ban on demonstrations and the Brussels airport, the site of one of the deadly bombings, announced it will partially reopen on Sunday.

Authorities also announced they have charged a third man with participating in a foiled plot for a terrorist attack in France.

The attacks in Brussels on March 22 struck the airport and a metro station in Belgium's capital, killing 35 people and leaving more than 300 wounded. The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State.

Police say they have identified three suspected suicide bombers. They have charged two men with terrorism in connection to the attack.

The airport has been closed since the attacks, but on Sunday — 12 days after the bombings --- it will reopen and "partially resume" passenger flights.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities are cracking down on protesters — both far-left and far-right — who are defying a ban on demonstrations.

On Saturday police handcuffed a man in Molenbeek, the Brussels neighborhood with a large Muslim community that "served as the departure point" for many of the Paris and Brussels attackers, the AP reports. A far-right demonstration had been planned for that neighborhood.

Police, including some mounted on horseback, also moved on a counterprotest planned in central Brussels, the wire service notes.

NPR's Russell Lewis reported for our Newscast unit from the city center:

"There's a heavy police presence at ... the old Brussels stock exchange, where a makeshift memorial has sprung up for the victims of last month's bombings. But today is a day when there were no gatherings allowed anywhere in Brussels. The police were trying to head off any possible protests.

"And today there were many people here — like there always have been. And police came in in masks and they 'administratively detained' some people and took them away."

Also on Saturday, Belgian prosecutors offered an update on another terrorist investigation. After the attacks in Brussels, authorities in France and Belgium announced that they had foiled a plot to attack France.

On Saturday, the Belgian prosecutor's office charged a third man — a Belgian they identified as "Y.A." — with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, in association with that alleged plot, the AP reports.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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