Belgium’s capital is coming to a halt this weekend as the government raised the threat alert to the highest level and shut down the metro system due to the fears of a “serious and imminent” attack. Prime Minister Charles Michel did not mince words on Saturday saying that the decision to raise the threat alert to level four was “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris … where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.”
The government has told Brussels residents to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid crowds, including shopping malls and public events. Armed troops were stationed across the city a day after authorities arrested one person in connection to the Paris attacks in the Brussels suburb of Molenbek, where much of the planning seems to have taken place. Weapons were found in the person’s home, but no explosives.
Despite all these warnings, the government called on people to stay calm. “We urge the public not to give in to panic, to stay calm. We have taken the measures that are necessary,” the prime minister said.
While police continued a massive manhunt for Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national who lived in Brussels and was one of the Paris attackers, three people with suspected ties to ISIS were arrested in Turkey. One of those detained was Ahmet Dahmani, a 26-year-old Belgian national of Moroccan descent who apparently helped scout locations for the Paris attacks, reports CNN. The other two were Syrian nationals who were set to meet Dahmani and take him to Syria.