UK tightens security as PM urges joint stand after Brussels

22nd March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain boosted security at its international transport hubs following the deadly attacks in Brussels on Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron urged Europe to stand together against "a very real terrorist threat".

Security was stepped up at ports, borders and airports, although police chiefs and politicians insisted there was no specific intelligence pointing towards an attack in Britain.

Two Britons were wounded in the attacks on the main Brussels airport and a central metro station, the foreign office said.

"Embassy staff are providing consular assistance to two injured Britons and are ready to support any further British nationals that have been affected," read its statement.

Cameron chaired a meeting of COBRA, Britain's emergencies committee, which brings together ministers, police and intelligence officers.

"We face a very real terrorist threat right across the different countries of Europe and we have to meet that with everything we have," Cameron said afterwards, as he announced extra security.

"These are difficult times, these are appalling terrorists but we must stand together to do everything we can to stop them and to make sure that although they attack our way of life and they attack us because of who we are, we will never let them win."

Britain's official national threat level from international terrorism was raised in August 2014 to severe, the second highest of five levels, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

Mark Rowley, Britain's counter-terror police chief, announced increased patrols.

"As a precaution, forces across the UK have increased policing presence at key locations, including transport hubs, to protect the public and provide reassurance," he said.

"This is not in relation to any specific information or intelligence," he added.

Rowley said that in London, extra police were being mobilised to conduct "highly visible patrols at key locations", including on the transport network.

Fifty-two people were killed in July 2005 Islamist suicide attacks on London's transport system.

- 'Remain alert and vigilant' -

Detectives appealed for any British nationals or media with footage of the attacks to assist the investigation by uploading images or video to an online platform.

British police expertise was being offered to Belgian colleagues, Cameron's spokeswoman said.

"This is a shared threat that we should be working together to tackle," she said.

Senior police and government officials met to review security following the attacks.

"While the threat level has not changed there has been an increase in police presence at ports, airports, underground stations and international railway stations," a Cameron spokeswoman said.

"This will be kept under review in the coming days."

Security was increased at Britain's border control in Calais, northeastern France, and at the port of Dover across the Channel.

It was also upped at London's Saint Pancras international rail station. Eurostar passenger trains between the terminal and Brussels were suspended.

"We advise customers not to travel today unless essential," Eurostar said.

London Gatwick, the country's second-biggest airport, confirmed it had boosted security patrols.

London Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, said police were providing "a high visibility presence".

Britain warned its citizens against travel to Brussels, and instructed British nationals in the city to "remain alert and vigilant, and stay away from crowded places".

Neighbouring Ireland also updated its travel advice to warn citizens to delay non-essential travel to Brussels, and warned of increased security in France following the attacks.

© 2016 AFP

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