Brussels remains under virtual military lockdown after intelligence authorities picked up "chatter" which indicated a “serious and imminent” terror threat.
The public was advised to “avoid places where a lot of people come together like shopping centers, concerts, events or public transport stations wherever possible.” Local authorities are encouraged to cancel large events and public meetings.
The capital's metro is now closed and bus drivers refuse to work. Heavily armed soldiers and police carrying assault rifles patrol the streets and military vehicles are parked nearby, ready to respond or block off streets.
Jan Jambon, the Belgian Interior Minister says he wants a register made of everyone living in the highly immigrant populated suburb of Molenbeek where some of last week's Paris attackers lived. He says it is not clear at present who lives there. Authorities are conducting door-to-door checks of every house.
He says, "There are several suspects, that’s why we have put in place such a concentration of resources. We are following the situation minute by minute.There’s is no point in hiding that there is a real threat, but we are doing everything we can, day and night, to counter this situation.”
Today the terror threat level in Brussels remains at 4 - the highest level - and is likely to continue into the work week. It is not clear if the metro system will operate on Monday morning, when many of Brussel's one million inhabitants will depend on public transport to get them to work.
Mayor Bernard Clerfayt of the nearby Belgian city of Schaerbeek, says authorities are searching for two men. "There are two terrorists in the Brussels region that could commit very dangerous acts,” says Clerfayt.
Although not identifying the suspects, it is believed one is “a terror suspect” linked to Jihadi John who recently “evaded” British intelligence and escaped to Brussels. It is believed when he arrived in Brussels he tried to obtain a false British passport.
The U.S. Embassy in Brussels is advising Americans living in or visiting the city to "shelter in place and remain at home. If you were planning to attend an event, we strongly urge you to reconsider."
Jabon said, “Unfortunately, it’s a threat that goes beyond just that individual,” referring to Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam.
In what many are saying is an “easy to say, but harder to do” statement, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says that despite the troops in the streets, the city-wide lockdown, and the government's advice to remain indoors, there should not be any "panic stricken" thinking. He says Belgians should just "be alert."