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23 November 2015

Brussels on lockdown as police make arrests and hunt for terror suspects

Sixteen people were arrested over the weekend in Belgium in anti-terror raids, and schools and transportation remain closed today as operations continue.

By New Statesman

Much of Brussels remains on lockdown for the third consecutive day following counter-terrorism raids in the city over the weekend.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor, Eric van der Spyt, said there were 19 raids across the city and 16 people have been arrested, although so far “no firearms or explosives” have been found.

Simultaneous operations launched on Sunday evening, focusing on the Molenbeek area but also taking place in Liege and Charleroi.

The suspected Paris gunman Salah Abdeslam was not among those detained.

Today, schools, universities and the metro system remain closed across the city as operations continue and the city remains on the highest level of terror alert. Interior minister Jan Jambon stressed the delicacy of the situation, explaining that at present “every detail could go in a hundred different ways”.

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BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler suggested on twitter that Belgium will re-evaluate its terror threat level this afternoon.

The country has been on its “maximum alert” level after receiving information suggesting a threat was imminent.

“[W]e are doing everything we can to return to normality as soon as possible,” said Belgian prime minister Charles Michel.

A call centre set up to offer advice to concerned Belgian citizens has received over 4,000 calls relating to the raised threat level.