Heavily armed soldiers have been guarding metro stations, airports and other vulnerable buildings and places in Belgium since the 2015 terrorist attacks, but after six years they hand over this task to the police.

The military have already left Brussels-Charleroi airport and the European quarter of Brussels, says Minister Annelies Verlinden (Home Affairs) in the newspaper Le Soir. “On 1 april, the other airports, stations and metros will be next. In June the embassies will follow, also in stages.”

In the Jewish quarter of Antwerp, the military remain the longest.

Heavily armed soldiers have been a familiar face on the streets since the attacks on the editorial staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015. The threat was great at the time and the Belgian police did not have the manpower to guard all possible targets of terrorists.

The need was underlined by the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris later that year and on Brussels airport and a metro station in that city in 2016.

The police can handle the security themselves now, Verlinden assures. The army wanted to be able to devote itself to its own work for some time now.

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