Not taking any chances after the dastardly Paris carnage, Belgium has put its capital Brussels, on maximum security alert, shutting down the metro service, and warning people to avoid crowds, because of a “serious and imminent” threat of coordinated multiple attacks by militants.
The measures comes a week after the Paris bombings and shootings, carried out by Islamic State militants, of whom, one suspect from Brussels is at large. Brussels was placed on the top level “four” in the government’s threat scale, after a meeting of the police, justice, and intelligence officials. Soldiers were on guard in parts of Brussels, a city of 1.2 million people, and home to institutions of the European Union, and the headquarters of NATO.
“The result of relatively precise information pointed to the risk of an attack along the lines of what took take place in Paris,” Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference, after a meeting of the national security council. The Paris attacks left 130 people dead. “We are talking about the threat that several individuals with arms and explosives would launch an attack perhaps in several locations at the same time,” Michel said, adding that, people should be alert, but not panic.
The crisis centre advised the public to avoid places with crowds, such as shopping centres, concerts, sports events or public transport hubs. The city’s museums and many cinemas, along with sports centres were shut, on separate orders from the city’s 19 different local mayors. Clubs and venues cancelled events, including a planned concert of veteran French rock singer Johnny Hallyday. The streets in the city were deserted, as security forces patrolled Brussels, following a level four threat alert.
The terror has put the tennis Davis Cup final 2015 on the edge as well. Security fears in Brussels are of “great concern” to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ahead of next week’s Davis Cup final between Belgium and Britain, in Ghent, the governing body said in a statement.
ITF president David Haggerty said in a statement: “Over the last week, the ITF has been in constant contact with the relevant authorities.”