Belgian defence minister Steven Vandeput announces the deployment of hundreds of troops to guard potential high-risk locations, including Jewish sites and diplomatic missions, following a series of raids and arrests across the country.
Up to 300 military personnel will be stationed at locations such as the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Brussels and NATO and EU institutions following the national threat level being set at three on a scale of four. This follows the killing of two gunmen in the Belgian town of Verviers during raids by Belgian police on Thursday.
The military will reinforce local police presence at least until Thursday, when authorities will reassess the national threat level.
Minister Vandeput told reporters “It’s very important to say that this wasn’t a simple decision. But it was necessary, at a time when police are overly engaged, for the army to enter in a supporting role.”
The European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol said today that increased security measures on the streets should reassure the UK public but a terrorist attack “cannot be ruled out.“
Europol director Rob Wainwright said “Stopping everything is very difficult, containing the threat fully is very difficult, but I’m sure we will prevail, as we have prevailed against other forms of terrorism in the past.”
Mr Wainwright has said that there are between 2,500 and 5,000 people that have travelled from Europe to conflicts in Syria and Iraq and might have been radicalised.
This comes after Prime Minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama recently held talks in Washington on how to tackle the terrorist threat posed by returning militants.
In other news across Europe, an 18-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after arriving at Stanstead Airport yesterday. She was arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts and membership of a proscribed organisation by counter terrorism officers shortly after arrival according to Scotland Yard. It has been reported that the woman is of Kurdish origin and had flown to Syria to join the fight against Islamic State militants.