Belgium on peak threat alert – Brussels on guard while Parisians reflect on bloodshed

November 22, 2015 1:14 am

Soldiers
and police patrol the streets of Brussels where all stores had to close
following the terror alert level being elevated to 4. Photo / Getty
Images

has warned its citizens of “serious and imminent” threat and
to avoid crowded areas after raising attack alert to its highest level
ever.
The move was made in Brussels after a meeting of top ministers, police and security services.
“The
advice for the population is to avoid places where a lot of people come
together, like shopping centres, concerts, events or public transport
stations wherever possible,” a spokesman for the Government’s crisis
centre said. Brussels on guard while Parisians reflect on last week’s bloodshed.
The level for the whole country was raised a week
ago after the Paris attacks to level three of four, implying a “possible
or probable” threat. Previously, only certain sites, such as the US
embassy, were at level three.
A statement on the crisis centre’s website called on officials to cancel major events and football matches over the weekend.
Metro services in Brussels were cancelled over the weekend, as the Government increased its security presence in the city.

Meanwhile, a week after the deadliest attacks on France in
decades, shell-shocked Parisians honoured the 130 victims with candles
and songs yesterday, knowing at least one suspect is still at large and
fearing other militants could be slipping through ’s porous
borders.
Prosecutors said they had determined through fingerprint
checks that two of the seven attackers who died in the bloodshed
entered Europe through Greece on October 3. One carried a Syrian
passport naming him as Ahmad Al-Mohammad, although it’s unclear whether
it was authentic.
The five other attackers who died had links to
France and Belgium. One of the seven dead has not been identified and a
manhunt is under way for suspect who escaped, Salah Abdeslam, 26. French
police stopped Abdeslam the morning after the attacks at the Belgian
border but let him go.
French police official Jean-Marc Falcone
was unable to say if Abdeslam, whose brother, Brahim, blew himself up in
the attacks, could be back on French territory.
The suspected
ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a pre-dawn raid on
Wednesday in an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, along with
Hasna Aitboulahcen, a 26-year-old woman who said she was his cousin.
Prosecutors said that a third person was killed in the raid but did not
release the identity.
They also said Aitboulahcen had not blown
herself up with a suicide vest, as initially believed, which suggests
the body parts collected after the raid belonged to the third,
unidentified, person.
Meanwhile in Brussels, European interior
and justice ministers vowed to tighten border controls to make it easier
to track jihadis with European passports travelling to and from war
zones in Syria.
“We must move swiftly and with force,” French
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. “Europe owes it to all victims
of and those who are close to them.”
Cazeneuve said
the 28-nation bloc must move forward on a long-delayed system for
collecting and exchanging airline passenger information, data he said is
vital “for tracing the return of foreign fighters” from Syria and Iraq.
Highlighting
how easily Islamic militants seem to be able to move in and out of
Europe, French officials say they don’t know when and how Abaaoud, a
28-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, entered France.
They believed he was in Syria until receiving a tip-off he was in France.
Marking
a week since the carnage, Parisians lit candles and paid tribute to the
victims with silent reflection. Others decided enjoying themselves was
the best way to defy the extremists. They sang and danced on Place de la
Republique, where scores of people were killed, most in the attack on
the Bataclan concert hall.
Demonstrations have been banned in the
city since the attacks, but Parisians have been gathering all week to
leave flowers, light candles and hold quiet vigils outside the attack
sites.
France’s Senate has voted to extend for three months a
state of emergency, which expands police powers to carry out arrests and
searches and allows authorities to forbid the movement of persons and
vehicles at specific times and places. France’s lower chamber has
already approved the measure.
Hollande is also going to Washington and Moscow next week to push for a stronger international coalition against Isis.
Of
the more than 350 people wounded in the attacks, scores are in critical
condition. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said one more person has died,
raising the death toll to 130, a tally that does not include any of the
attackers.

gives puppy to France

A puppy called Dobrynia has been offered by Russia to France to replace the police dog killed by a suicide bomber in Paris. Photo / Instagram
A puppy called Dobrynia has been offered by
Russia to France to replace the police dog killed by a suicide bomber in
Paris. Photo / Instagram
Russian police are giving a police dog to the French forces to express solidarity against terrorism.
The
announcement was made on the Russian police Facebook page yesterday,
two days after thousands of people paid tributes to Diesel, the
7-year-old Belgian Malinois shot during the raid in Saint-Denis on
Wednesday.
The pup called Dobrynya after a legendary Russian hero
will “replace Diesel and in solidarity with French people and the
police in the fight against terrorism” states the post on Facebook.
In Russian folklore, Dobrynya is a knight who embodies the forces of military prowess and selflessness.
Diesel was shot dead as police raided a flat where Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud was in hiding.

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