Belgian security officials meet on Sunday to decide whether to extend a lockdown in Brussels over fears jihadists are plotting a Paris-style attack, as police stepped up their hunt for key suspects behind the carnage in the French capital.
The Belgian capital closed its metro system and shuttered shops and public buildings yesterday as its terror threat was raised to its highest level over reports of an “imminent threat” of a major gun and bomb attack.
The city’s historic Grand Place, usually bustling with tourists, was quiet, with just some stragglers crossing the cobblestones as an armoured vehicle stood outside the imposing town hall.
The national security committee will decide whether to extend lockdown, as security services intensified raids in the immigrant districts of the capital to track down jihadists thought to be behind the bloodshed in Paris.
Investigators are working around the clock to find Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, one of the gunmen still on the loose after a coordinated wave of attacks on Parisian nightspots on November 13 that left 130 people dead.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said authorities feared a “Paris-style” assault “with explosives and weapons at several locations”.
The carnage in Paris has put the EU on edge over fears that Islamic State-inspired extremists, who have killed hundreds around the world in recent weeks, can move freely through the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone.
In Madrid, fans for Saturday’s El Clasico football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona were met by sniffer dogs, mounted police and countless identity checks.
In Turkey, police arrested a Belgian of Moroccan origin in connection with the Paris attacks in the resort of Antalya, the site of this week’s G20 summit, along with two other suspects, probably Syrians.
Ahmet Dahmani, 26, is accused of helping to scout the Paris attacks and then preparing to illegally cross the Turkish-Syrian border to rejoin IS after arriving in Turkey from Amsterdam on his Belgian passport.
The UN Security Council on Friday authorised nations to “take all necessary measures” to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists after a the wave of attacks across the world.
The resolution came after gunmen with an Al-Qaeda branch run by a notorious one-eyed Algerian militant besieged a luxury hotel in the Malian capital Bamako, killing 19 people, most of them foreigners.
Mali was struck a week after Paris and Beirut — where 44 people were killed in IS bombings — and three weeks after the militants claimed to have downed a Russian plane in Egypt killing all 224 on board.