Brussels on Lockdown After Paris-Style Attack Threat
Photo via Twitter/lwtharoId
Belgium’s capital Brussels shut down Saturday after the government warned of a Paris-style attack threat and raised the region’s alert to the highest level, the AP reported.
There are multiple connections between Belgium and the Paris attacks. At least one suspect is still at large and his last known sighting was at a Belgian border crossing. Also, three suspected accomplices are currently facing terrorism charges in Belgium related to those attacks. Brussels was home to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected organizer of the Nov. 13 attacks in France. He was killed during a raid Wednesday on an apartment in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, the AP said.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to elevate the alert to 4, indicating a "serious and immediate threat," was "based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris ... where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time," per the AP.
Brussels is home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO alliance, the AP noted.
Thus the streets became strangely vacant when it “would have been a busy weekend shopping day in the lead-up to the Christmas and New Year's holidays,” as the AP described it.
Instead heavily armed police and soldiers patrol “key intersections” of the capital city, residents were advised, “to avoid gatherings, train stations, airports and commercial districts,” the AP said, adding that Brussels Metro service was halted, along with underground streetcar lines.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium shuttered for the weekend and the Palais 21 music venue canceled a weekend concert.
Brussels Airport, which the AP noted is not in the Brussels administrative region, reported nothing out of the ordinary Saturday, but external communications manager Florence Muls told the news service that “special attention was being paid to security.”
"We urge the public not to give in to panic, to stay calm. We have taken the measures that are necessary," the prime minister said, per the AP.
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