SOLDIERS ON THE STREETS

Photos: Brussels is on lockdown amid a “serious and imminent” terrorist threat

Heavily armed in the heart of Europe.
Heavily armed in the heart of Europe.
Image: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
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In the early hours of Saturday (Nov. 21), Belgian authorities raised the terror threat for Brussels to its highest level (link in French). Prime minister Charles Michel said there is a “serious and imminent” threat in the Belgian capital based on “quite precise information.”

“Several individuals with arms and explosives could launch an attack … perhaps even in several places,” he said.

Police and soldiers have fanned out across Brussels. The metro has been shut down for the weekend. The government also called on city authorities to cancel large events, including professional soccer matches (the league is reportedly resisting this request), and urged residents to avoid crowded areas.

Brussels is at the center of the investigation into the terror attacks in Paris last week, with several of the attackers linked to the Molenbeek neighborhood of the Belgian capital. The alleged architect of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaooud, was a Belgian national who lived in Molenbeek; he was killed in a raid on a Paris suburb on Nov. 17. One of the attackers in Paris, Salah Abdeslam, is thought to have fled to Brussels after the shootings in Paris.

Belgium's Employment and Economy Minister Kris Peeters (L) Prime Minister Charles Michel (C) and Interior Minister Jan Jambon hold a news conference in Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris.
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel (center) holds a news conference about the raised terror threat alert in Brussels on Nov. 21.
Image: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.
Belgian soldiers and a police officer on patrol in central Brussels.
Image: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
Metro station closed following the terrorist threat has increased to 4 in Brussels, Belgium, 21 November 2015.
Metro stations in Brussels are closed for the weekend.
Image: EPA/Stephanie Lecocq
Belgian soldiers patrol in the arrival hall at Midi railway station in Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.
Soldiers on patrol in the arrival hall at Midi railway station in Brussels.
Image: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
Belgian soldiers stand guard outside the Radisson Blu hotel in central Brussels, November 21, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. Belgium raised the alert status for its capital Brussels to the highest level on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning the public to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack.
Soldiers stand guard outside of a central Brussels hotel.
Image: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
Belgian Army soldiers patrol next to flowers left outside of the French Consulates office in Brussels Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Belgium raised it security level to it's highest degree on Saturday as the manhunt continues for extremist Salah Abdeslam who took part in the Paris attacks.
Soldiers patrol next to flowers left outside the French consulate office in Brussels.
Image: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo