Quantcast
Connect with us

Brussels in lockdown over terrorist attack fears

Published

on

Brussels was on terror lockdown on Saturday, with a gunman still on the run after the Paris attacks that have sent waves of fear throughout Europe.

The Belgian capital closed its metro system and shuttered shopping centres as a terror alert was raised to its highest level over reports of an “imminent threat” of a gun and bomb attack similar to the horror seen in Paris last week.

ADVERTISEMENT

Brussels-based jihadists are increasingly at the heart of the Paris investigation and police have multiplied raids in the city’s poorest districts in a rush to round up suspects before they disappear or launch fresh attacks.

Investigators are working around the clock to track Salah Abdeslam, one of the gunmen who is still on the loose after a coordinated wave of attacks on Parisian nightspots that left 130 people dead on November 13.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said authorities feared a “Paris-style” attack “with explosives and weapons at several locations” despite the hundreds of soldiers patrolling Brussels that is also home to the EU and NATO.

The carnage in Paris has put all of Europe on edge as it emerged dangerous jihadists slipped between countries unnoticed, with France extending a ban on public gatherings until November 30, the start of a UN climate summit.

Turkey has detained a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin, Ahmet Dahmani, 26, who is believed to have helped choose the sites for the Paris attacks, the Dogan news agency reported on Saturday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The UN Security Council on Friday authorised nations to “take all necessary measures” to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists and other extremist groups after a wave of attacks across the world left hundreds dead in a matter of weeks.

The UN resolution came after jihadist gunmen with an Al-Qaeda branch run by a notorious one-eyed militant besieged a luxury hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako, holding hostages for nine hours and killing 19 people, including two Belgians.

Mali was struck a week after Paris and Beirut — where 44 people were killed in IS bombings — and three weeks after IS claimed to have downed a Russian plane in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula killing all 224 on board.

ADVERTISEMENT

– A minute of non-silence –

In grieving Paris, citizens defiantly poured into the streets and on to cafe terraces Friday night to mark one week since the carnage, with a noisy minute of non-silence as urged by several artists in the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Outside La Belle Equipe restaurant where 18 people were gunned down, a crowd stood under a light rain around a heap of flowers and candles singing the Marseillaise anthem before whooping and yelling at the top of their voices at 9:20 pm (2020 GMT), when the attacks started.

Benoit Seblain, drinking a beer at a cafe not far from the Bataclan where 89 people were massacred at a rock concert, admitted he was “a bit afraid”.

“But we told ourselves we have to try and live like we did before,” he told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

The country has been shaken to its core by a dramatic week which began with the attacks and saw a violent shootout on Wednesday between police and jihadists holed up in a Paris apartment.

Suspected attack ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in the police assault along with his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen and an unidentified suicide bomber.

Police on Saturday released seven people arrested during the siege, but kept hold of d Jawad Bendaoud, who has admitted lending the apartment to two people from Belgium “as a favour”.

Abaaoud was a notorious Belgian jihadist thought to be fighting in Syria and his presence in Europe raised troubling questions about a breakdown in intelligence and border security.

ADVERTISEMENT

The European Union agreed Friday to rush through reforms to the passport-free Schengen zone by the end of the year and immediately tighten border controls.

Prosecutors said Friday that two of the three men who blew themselves up near the Stade de France stadium — the first of the wave of attacks — may have entered Europe through Greece, posing as refugees fleeing the Syrian war.

Seven attackers were killed or blew themselves up during their assault on Paris.

– ‘A very serious threat’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

Another, Salah Abdeslam, is believed to have fled to Belgium and a huge manhunt is under way to find him.

His brother Brahim blew himself up outside a Paris bar.

Both grew up in the poor Molenbeek district of Brussels, described as an extremist hotbed, before going to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

Belgium’s OCAM national crisis centre raised its alert level to 4 early Saturday, “signifying a very serious threat for the Brussels region”.

The centre urged citizens to avoid crowded areas such as concerts and transport hubs in Belgium’s capital and recommended that authorities in the Brussels region “consider cancelling major events” in order to free up police.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

CNN

Former Republican Congressman admits he ‘can’t explain’ Ted Cruz: ‘You’d think he’d have more self-respect’

Published

on

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared on "Meet the Press" Sunday to perpetuate the false narrative that Ukraine hacked the 2016 election, a fact that has been disproven by all of the U.S. intelligence agencies. When asked to explain what Cruz could possibly have been thinking, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) confessed he has no idea how to explain Cruz.

"So, Charlie, what's going on here?" asked CNN host Fredricka Whitfield.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump busted for acting like the Saudi’s ‘press secretary’ after Florida naval yard shooting

Published

on

Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot blasted President Donald Trump for essentially becoming a "press secretary" for the Saudi Arabian government in wake of the Pensacola, Florida mass shooting.

In his column Sunday, Boot noted that the typical mass shooting sentiments like "thoughts and prayers" were absent Friday when Trump discovered that the shooting was done by a Muslim.

"It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations," Boot observed. "On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

McConnell blocked by his own party from calling impeachment witnesses Trump wants for Senate trial: report

Published

on

According to a report from the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is finding his hands tied by members of his own party who are skeptical over the appropriateness of calling some of the witnesses Donald Trump  -- and a few of his House Republican enablers  -- want to appear.

As the Times notes, "While Democrats who control the House are focused on a swift impeachment vote by year’s end, the White House is almost entirely consumed by the trial that would follow in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Mr. Trump’s team believes he would have the chance to defend himself and where Democrats would almost certainly fall short of the two-thirds vote they would need to remove him from office."

Continue Reading