Reduced terrorist threat level in Belgium but still need for military presence in the capital

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 07:56
Reduced terrorist threat level in Belgium but still need for military presence in the capital © Belga
The Belgian government announced yesterday that the threat level was reduced from 3 (a serious and credible threat) to 2 (average and unlikely).
The reduction in the threat level should however not result in the disappearance of military personnel near sensitive places according to Philippe Close (PS), mayor of the city of Brussels.

"For us it is important that places considered as critical from a risk point of view, such as embassies, the Jewish Museum and synagogues, should continue to have a military presence because, otherwise, the police will have to take charge and will be less present in the neighborhoods," he commented in an interview on Monday (22 January) on the sidelines of a meeting of the communal council.

Close added that he understands the federal government's intention to reduce the number of soldiers on the street as a result of the lowering of the threat level. "I’m in favor of collaboration and searching for solutions," he underlined.

According to the mayor, security measures taken during major public events will not disappear because "times have changed" and the population understands it.

"People are getting used not come to big events with backpacks and are behaving well at police searches. We are trying to create a climate that is as less uncomfortable as possible. The citizens seem to support the work of the police" he said.

The Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis (Ocam) reduced Monday the general threat level in Belgium from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1 to 4), announced Prime Minister Charles Michel, while insisting on the need to maintain vigilance.

The Prime Minister warned that soldiers deployed in major cities since January 17, 2015, will not disappear immediately from the streets. "We are keeping the military in a proportionate way," he said.

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times
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