Terror threat stops fireworks
The traditional New Year's Eve firework display in the centre of Brussels did not go ahead on Monday evening
2 January 2008 The traditional New Year's Eve firework display in the centre of Brussels did not go ahead on Monday evening. The Mayor of Brussels Freddy Thielemans (Francophone socialist) decided to call off the display after a meeting with security chiefs at the Interior Ministry's Crisis Centre.
The police and security service have been on a heightened state of alert in Belgium since 21 December when 14 people were detained on suspicion of being part of a plan to help the Islamic terrorist Nizar Trabelsi to escape from Nivelles Gaol (Walloon Brabant).
The Interior Ministry's Crisis Centre evaluated the effectiveness of the extra security measures so far and decided that the heightened state of alert should be maintained until at least 3 January.
The Crisis Centre's Director-General Jaak Raes told journalists that "there is no reason to revise the current heightened state of alert".
Extra police have been deployed at tourist attractions, the Christmas market and the main shopping streets in Brussels.
The crisis centre also advised Mayor Thielemans to call off the New Year's Eve firework display, advice that has been heeded by the Mayor.
A spokesman for the City of Brussels told the VRT that "It's not our intention to cause panic or to make life in the city grind to a halt".
"However, we don't want to take any unnecessary risks."
Consequently, the stalls on the Christmas closed at 6pm on New Year's Eve with the open air ice rink and the big wheel at 8pm.
The Interior Ministry Crisis Centre will evaluate the situation again at a meeting to be held on Thursday 3 January.
The firework display in Antwerp took place as planned.
Masses of people were expected for the fireworks show over the Scheldt River which started at midnight.
According to Antwerp City authorities, extra security measures in Antwerp are not necessary.