Friday

19th Apr 2019

Brussels shut down Monday, attacks still feared

  • The army and police presence will be stepped up (Photo: Full-tactical)

Brussels will remain on maximum alert Monday (23 November), with schools and universities, as well as the metro network, closed, Belgian prime minister Charles Michel announced Sunday evening.

“We fear attacks similar to the attacks in Paris,” Michel said. “Indications tell us that potential targets are much frequented places.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Michel gave a short press conference after the national security council decided to extend the highest alert level two days after it was imposed.

“The threat is considered as serious and imminent in Brussels and at a serious level for the whole country,” Michel said.

“We take decisions according to the information we have, we ask the population to understand.”

Belgian army and police patrolled Brussels all weekend and their presence will be increased on Monday, with up to 10 terrorists being hunted, according to Belgian media. They are suspected of carrying arms and explosives.

Shopping malls, shops on important streets, cinemas, concert halls and theatres remained closed on Saturday and Sunday and will remain so Monday.

Security was stepped up at the Gare du Midi, where the Thalys and Eurostar trains leave to France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain.

Just after the PM's press conference, a police operation was launched in the centre of Brussels, not far from the Grand Place. Restaurant customers and locals were asked not to go out.

Belgian authorities gave no detail about the nature of the threat or the suspects.

But tension ran high over the weekend.

Four men in a car were arrested on Saturday near the Grand Sablon square in the centre of Brussels. Six men were also arrested at a highway petrol station, but they were a humanitarian convoy going to Turkey.

On Sunday afternoon, the offices of the Flemish TV station were evacuated in Vilvoorde, near Brussels, and a suspicious car was searched for explosives.

Much of Brussels’ economic and working activities will be disrupted Monday.

EU institutions will work, but with increased security checked and some meetings cancelled.

There is "no specific threat to EU institutions but security measures are reenforced," commissioner Kristalina Georgieva posted on her Twitter account Sunday evening.

The EU Council raised the alert level to Orange and "the majority of non-essential meetings" are cancelled, it announced.

But the Eurogroup meeting and the meeting of EU education ministers will take place.

This article is updated to include new information

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us