Russia and the Middle East
Mon, 31 july 2017Mon
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In Brussels terror alert raised to highest level


Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level in the capital Brussels on Saturday, with the OCAM national crisis centre warning of an "imminent threat" a week after the Paris attacks. "Following our latest evaluation... the centre has raised its terror alert to level 4, signifying a very serious threat, for the Brussels region," it said, as Europe tightens security after Islamic State militants killed 130 people in the French capital. "The analysis shows a serious and imminent threat requiring specific security measures as well as detailed recommendations to the population," said OCAM, which is part of the Belgian interior ministry, in a statement.

The centre urged citizens to avoid crowded areas such as concerts and transport hubs in Belgium's capital, which is also home to the European Union and NATO headquarters. The officials declined to add further details until later on Saturday "in order to allow ongoing judicial investigations to follow their course," the statement said.

Belgian authorities have stepped up security across the country as the investigation continues into the Paris attacks. Two of nine people arrested are still in custody as part of an inquiry into the departure to Syria of Belgium-based Bilal Hadfi, who blew himself up near the Stade de France last Friday. Belgium deployed police and soldiers on the iconic Brussels Grand Place and searched visitors at the entrance of the square. Authorities also cancelled a student gathering organised on Friday to replace an annual festive march through the capital city’s streets known as Saint Verhaegen.