Brussels metro shut down over terror alert

Belgium issues terror alert, closes Brussels metro because of “serious and imminent" threat of terror attack

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrolling in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium

Belgium on Saturday increased the terror alert to the highest level in its capital and shut down all of Brussels metro as a result of a “serious and imminent" threat of a terror attack.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel underlined that the terror alert has been issued due to possible attacks with weapons and explosives.

“We have precise information that outlines the risk of an attack similar to the one that unfolded in Paris,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.

“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.”

Officials have warned people to avoid crowded places such as shopping centres, concerts and public transport stations.

Brussels transport operator STIB stated, "On the recommendation of the crisis centre of the Federal Interior Public Service, all our metro and light railway stations... will stay closed today. This is a precautionary measure."

Belgium's OCAM national crisis centre decided to raise the country’s alert level to four early Saturday, due to intelligence "signifying a very serious threat for the Brussels region."

However, the alert has remained at level three for the other parts of Belgium.

Many weapons were found during police raids to several homes and three suspects were arrested due to having links to the Paris attacks, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The office also said security forces did not find suicide bomb belts and explosives among the weapons and added no more details would be shared with public.

After the deadly Paris attacks, Belgium raised its alert level to three across the country. But for the first time on Saturday the level was increased to four in the capital due to a "possible" terror threat.

Suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam, 26, left Paris and returned to his home in Brussels following the attacks. His elder brother had blown himself up at a cafe during the Paris attacks.

French authorities have claimed that the attacks were organised in Brussels by Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was a member of DAESH and was killed by French security forces during an early morning raid at an apartment in Paris on Wednesday.

In the same day, 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 Paris attacks.

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

TRTWorld and agencies