Date
14 December 2017
Belgian soldiers patrol a street in Brussels on Sunday. The city has been in lockdown over the weekend amid fears of a Paris-style attack. Photo: Reuters
Belgian soldiers patrol a street in Brussels on Sunday. The city has been in lockdown over the weekend amid fears of a Paris-style attack. Photo: Reuters

Brussels lockdown extended amid terror attack fears

Belgian authorities extended a lockdown of Brussels to Monday amid fears of a Paris-style attack in the city, with the local train system and other key public facilities to be shut for a third day. 

On Sunday, armed police mounted raids across the nation in a bid to track down one of the men believed to be involved in the attack on the French capital last week that killed 130 people.

Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian national, is suspected to be hiding in the Brussels area after slipping back home following the Paris attacks.

Shortly before midnight, Belgian public broadcaster announced several arrests and said that the operations had concluded for now, Reuters reported.

Earlier in the day, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel, speaking after a meeting of security chiefs, said the capital’s metro, universities and schools would be closed on Monday.

For the rest of the country, a threat level of three on a four-tier scale will remain in place, he said.

Brussels will remain at level four, meaning an attack was imminent, as it has been since Saturday.

“What we fear is an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations,” Michel told a news conference.

Possible targets were malls, shopping streets and public transport, the PM said, adding that the government will boost police and army presence in the capital beyond already high levels.

A new evaluation of the situation would be made on Monday afternoon, he said, adding that authorities will do everything to return the city to normal as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, in France, investigators on Sunday extended into a fifth day the detention of a man arrested on Wednesday outside the building where the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks died in a raid.

Police also released a picture of a man they said had blown himself up in the attacks and called for witnesses.

Two of the Paris suicide bombers, Brahim Abdeslam and Bilal Hadfi, had been living in Belgium. 

Salah Abdeslam, who is Brahim’s 26-year-old brother, is suspected to be involved in the plot.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe