Belgium to decide on extending Brussels lockdown
For the second day yesterday, shops in the Belgian capital were closed, the city’s metro system has been shut down, and residents have been urged to stay at home in the face of a “serious and imminent threat”.
Warnings on movement remained in place as authorities continued their efforts to track down one of the men believed to be involved in the attack on the French capital last week that killed 130 people.
Salah Abdesalam, a Belgian national, is suspected to be hiding in the Brussels area and carrying what might be an explosive device.
Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, moved to increase the state of alert in Brussels to the highest level early on Saturday in response to the threat.
Metro services and major events have since been suspended as hundreds of police officers and soldiers fanned out across the city.
Residents have been asked to stay indoors and avoid crowded areas amid the alert, which is in force only in Brussels.
Emergency phone lines have been set up to report suspicious activity, as well as sightings of Abdesalam.
Michel was expected to hold a press conference yesterday evening local time to announce whether the emergency measures would remain in place.
Belgium has been at the forefront of efforts to track down those involved in helping execute the November 13 attacks in Paris, which targeted a concert hall, football stadium, cafe and shopping mall.
On Thursday, the country’s security services launched raids in the Molenbeek and Jette neighbourhoods of Brussels and made further arrests on Saturday.