Belgium’s army bomb disposal squad Sedee responded to 320 incidents in 2016 and the first half of 2017, according to the federal defence ministry. On average, Sedee were called out four times a week, compared to an average of two calls a week during 2014-15.

“At this rate, the figure of 400 interventions will have been exceeded by the end of the year,” said MP Veli Yüksel, who requested the figures from defence minister Steven Vandeput. “The pressure on Sedee staff has grown visibly since the attacks of 22 March 2016.”

Yüksel also raised the issue of the cost of call-outs, particularly to deal with suspect packages that turn out to be harmless. In each case, the police make an evaluation of the situation before alerting Sedee – members of the public cannot call Sedee directly.

As far as the squad is concerned, Vandeput said, each case is treated as being genuine until proven otherwise. The costs, he said, are carried by the defence ministry.

Photo: Eric Lalmand/BELGA

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