Belgian PM says Brussels to remain on maximum terror alert

Belgium maintains highest alert level of four for Brussels to prevent 'serious and imminent' attack

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel speaks during a news conference in Brussels, November 21.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel annouced on Sunday that his country will maintain its highest terror level as it carries out an international manhunt for a potential Paris suicide bomber who is reportedly dwelling in the country.

Belgium on Saturday increased its terror alert to the highest level in its capital and shut down all of Brussels' metro stations, museums, cinemas and shopping centers in response to a "serious and imminent" threat of a terror attack.

The historic Grand Place in the capital is usually visited by massive crowds but after officials raised the terror alert level to four in the city it has fallen silent.

Brussels police requested to silence the tweets for the safety of ongoing terror operations. 

On request from the police, one of the major media stations in Brussels RTL decared that they stoped tweeting about the ongoing operations.

Security forces are in particular looking for suspect Salah Abdeslam, 26, in connection to the bloody attacks in Paris on November 13 which left at least 130 people dead and more than 300 others injured.

Security officials strongly believe that Salah Abdeslam left Paris and returned to his home in Brussels following the attacks.

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

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said authorities feared a "Paris-style" assault "with explosives and weapons at several locations."

The prime minister on Saturday also said, “We have precise information that outlines the risk of an attack similar to the one that unfolded in Paris,” and added “It is a threat based on the theory that it would take place with arms and explosives, maybe even in several places and at the same time.”

Interior minister Jan Jambon in a TV broadcaster said that the threat level since Saturday is not related to Salah Abdeslam alone.

"It is a threat that goes beyond just that one person," he said.

"We're looking at more things, that's why we've put in place such a concentration of resources."

EU and UN take measures against terrorism

The European Union agreed on Friday it would tighten border controls and Belgium issued its highest terror alert for Brussels, warning of a "serious and imminent threat" of attacks.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve stated in Brussels he and his EU counterparts agreed to "immediately" tighten controls for entry to the 26-country Schengen area.

Cazeneuve said the European Commission shared its plan for "obligatory checks at all external borders for all travellers," for all EU citizens until the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the United Nation Security Council passed an action plan on Friday urging its member states to intensify and coordinate their actions against DAESH.

The Security Council approved a resolution empowering countries to "take all necessary measures" against DAESH.

The resolution indicated that the DAESH terror organisation "constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security" and stated the Security Council’s determination "to combat by all means this unprecedented threat."

On Saturday, Turkish police arrested a Belgian man of Moroccan origin, Ahmed Dahmani, in Antalya on the suspicion that he scouted out target locations for DAESH terrorists in the Paris attacks.

Dahmani was arrested at a luxury hotel in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya, where the G20 Summit was held with the participation of world leaders last weekend.

Two other DAESH members were also arrested. Police identified the two other men as Syrian citizens Ahmed Tahir and Muhammad Verd.

TRTWorld and agencies