Army patrols deserted streets as Brussels on edge | World Defense

Army patrols deserted streets as Brussels on edge

Redheart

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Army patrols deserted streets as Brussels on edge - Al Jazeera English

Streets that would normally be heaving with pre-Christmas shoppers thinned out in a tense Belgian capital on Saturday evening after the government announced the highest possible terror alert for the city.

The metro system and many shops were shuttered, heavily-armed soldiers and police patrolled key intersections, and major events were cancelled to protect against "Paris-style attacks".

In a move that shocked many, the government urged residents of the capital to stay indoors.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said authorities feared an attack "with explosives and weapons at several locations" despite the hundreds of soldiers patrolling the city.

The capital was placed on the top level "four" in the government's threat scale after a meeting of top ministers, police and security services.

The federal prosecutor's office said that several weapons were discovered during the search of the home of one of three people arrested in connection with last week's Paris attacks, but said no explosives were found.

At least one person suspected of involvement in those attacks, which left 130 people dead, is still at large, and was last reported to have been seen crossing into Belgium.

A cosmopolitan city of more than one million people, Brussels is home to the headquarters of the European Union, the NATO alliance and the offices of many multinational corporations.

Many residents of the city used social media to share photos of the dramatic shutdown.

The city's historic Grande Place, usually bustling with tourists, was also quiet.

A shopping district a few blocks away usually attracts 44,000 people a day but the large Galeria Inno shopping centre was closed. Management at the neighbouring mall City 2, decided to close at noon.

And during the two hours it was open, shops were deserted, with most residents following the recommendations of the authorities to avoid commercial hubs.

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium closed for the weekend, and a Saturday evening concert by French rocker Johnny Hallyday was rescheduled for next March.

Brussels Airport, which is not in the Brussels administrative region, reported normal operations on Saturday, but external communications manager Florence Muls said extra security measures were in place.

The prime minister, speaking at a news conference after the emergency meeting, said: "We urge the public not to give in to panic, to stay calm. We have taken the measures that are necessary."

He said the government's crisis cell would meet again on Sunday afternoon to reassess the threat.
 

Corzhens

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I pity the Belgians because their area is not a suspected lair of terrorists. That is scary because it would look like martial law when you see military patrols on the roads. And now the authorities are telling the public to be calm in the face of the situation. Aside from the thought of the presence of terrorists, those patrols can make people nervous. They should know that so their reconnaissance should be discreet.
 

Diane Lane

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I agree with @Corzhens that public patrols can make some people nervous, but they can put others at ease. I can remember at first feeling nervous when I'd shop in Mexico and see Army trucks riding around with armed personnel, but eventually, once I became used to seeing them, it made me feel safer, particularly when there had been issues of violence.

It's rather shocking to hear that this is the situation in the city where the EU and NATO are headquartered. I know the news stations here in the U.S. have reported that ISIS has threatened several explosions/attacks for major cities, so people are on edge. We don't see this type of military/police presence here, and as far as I know, it's business as usual. This is a big shopping weekend, since Thanksgiving is this week, so many will be out shopping for groceries, home decor, etc.
 

Corzhens

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I agree with @Corzhens that public patrols can make some people nervous, but they can put others at ease. I can remember at first feeling nervous when I'd shop in Mexico and see Army trucks riding around with armed personnel, but eventually, once I became used to seeing them, it made me feel safer, particularly when there had been issues of violence.

It's rather shocking to hear that this is the situation in the city where the EU and NATO are headquartered. I know the news stations here in the U.S. have reported that ISIS has threatened several explosions/attacks for major cities, so people are on edge. We don't see this type of military/police presence here, and as far as I know, it's business as usual. This is a big shopping weekend, since Thanksgiving is this week, so many will be out shopping for groceries, home decor, etc.
I didn't know that NATO has its headquarters in Brussels. Maybe it's about time the allied nations put their act together. This ISIS thing is expanding its haunt and sooner or later there will be more European cities for their target. Isn't it ironic that ISIS is just a small contingent of Islamic idealists? And why can't great countries like Russia and US cannot do anything about it? Are they scared or are they treating war as business?
 

Diane Lane

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I didn't know that NATO has its headquarters in Brussels. Maybe it's about time the allied nations put their act together. This ISIS thing is expanding its haunt and sooner or later there will be more European cities for their target. Isn't it ironic that ISIS is just a small contingent of Islamic idealists? And why can't great countries like Russia and US cannot do anything about it? Are they scared or are they treating war as business?
Our leader has tied the hands of our military. He has them over there wasting money, while denying them the ability to carry out the tactics that are needed to take care of the problem. It now sounds as if Russia will be dealing with Turkey, after Turkey shot down its plane, which could divide Russia's attention and interests. Every civilized country needs to get involved, instead of simply relying on the usual ones. This is a world war, not a limited scope issue. If ISIS is not stopped, they will continue to expand. They need to be stopped now, before they become too big to stop.
 

Corzhens

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Definitely, Russia's attention will now be divided and I'm sure it will not take the shooting sitting down, they will retaliate and they have to for the sake of their country's image. I just read an article in New York Times that said ISIS is taking the war to the civilians. It is easier to attack and kill civilians. Maybe ISIS knows that in war, collateral damage can make the military bow down.
 

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