Brussels faces third day of security lockdown

Terrorist suspects still at large as Belgian capital stays on high alert.

By Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is Managing Editor of The Parliament Magazine

23 Nov 2015

The threat of a Paris-style terror attack in Brussels remains strong as the city entered its third day of a high-security lockdown.

The presence of police, soldiers and armoured vehicles is in stark contrast to the near deserted streets across parts of central Brussels, with many people choosing to stay at home rather than enter the heavily guarded city.

The city's schools have been shut down, along with the underground metro system. Following advice from the Belgian authorities, most of the city's museums and attractions such as the Atomium are also closed, while everyday public events such as local markets have been cancelled.


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Brussels' EU district has a strong security presence as people return to work in the European institutions. The main 'Schuman' railway station linked to the EU district remains closed and security appears to have been stepped up in the surrounding area following a security scare on Sunday night at a Radisson Blu hotel in the city centre. 

The Radisson hotel chain was the target of a terrorist attack on Friday in Mali that left more than 20 dead.

The city's continuing level four alert status is, according to the country's Prime Minister Charles Michel, based on intelligence indicating that the risk of a major attack or series of Paris-style attacks remained "serious and imminent".

Sunday evening saw a series of raids by security services throughout Belgium. In a late night televised news conference, the country's federal prosecutors revealed that 16 people had been arrested following operations across the city's Molenbeek, Forest, Anderlecht, Jette, Woluwe -St- Lambert and Schaerbeek communes.

The searches however turned up no firearms or explosives and the prosecutors refused to answer questions on whether those arrested were major terrorist suspects.

During the searches in Molenbeek, police officers fired shots at a car, injuring the driver. However the incident is not believed to be directly connected to the raids.

Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspected perpetrators of the Paris attacks, is still on the run.

 

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