Brussels hunkers down amid warning of Paris-style threat

Yahoo News – By Maria Cheng and Frank Jordans/AP – Saturday Nov 21, 2015

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, file photo, police guard a street in which special intervention forces searched a house in the Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels. Molenbeek is separated from the Midi section of Brussels by part of a mosaic of jurisdictions of 19 municipalities and 6 policing zones, all for a population of 1 million, long hampering cooperation. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

FILE – In this Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, file photo, police guard a street in which special intervention forces searched a house in the Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels. Molenbeek is separated from the Midi section of Brussels by part of a mosaic of jurisdictions of 19 municipalities and 6 policing zones, all for a population of 1 million, long hampering cooperation. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian authorities closed down Brussels’ subway system and flooded the streets with armed police and soldiers Saturday in response to what they said was a threat of Paris-style attacks.

The decision to raise the threat alert to the highest level in the Belgian capital came as the manhunt continued for a suspect missing since the carnage in neighboring France. It was taken “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris,” said Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel.

The tip authorities received suggested that an attack would involve “several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgium urged Americans in the country “to shelter in place and remain at home” while the U.S. European Command issued a 72-hour travel restriction for U.S. military personnel on travel to Brussels — a city of more than 1 million that is home to the headquarters of the European Union, the NATO alliance and offices of many multinational corporations.

On Saturday night, a relative calm descended on the city center, where restaurants and beer bars would usually be teeming with business. On Brussels’ central square, the Grand Place, tourists snapped selfies as a green army truck full of soldiers pulled up next to a lit Christmas tree. Some restaurants and bars shuttered their doors, while others remained open, defying advice from the mayor to close for the night.

Tensions were also high elsewhere in Europe. In Paris, police equipped with emergency powers extended a ban on demonstrations and other gatherings through Nov. 30, when a U.N. climate conference with more than 100 heads of state is scheduled to start.

Jazz musicians acknowledge applause in front of "The Petit Cambodge" Restaurant, one of the sites of most deadly of six coordinated extremists attacks, in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. French artists and cultural figures are calling for people to mark a week since the start of the Paris attacks with an outpouring of "noise and light". (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Jazz musicians acknowledge applause in front of “The Petit Cambodge” Restaurant, one of the sites of most deadly of six coordinated extremists attacks, in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. French artists and cultural figures are calling for people to mark a week since the start of the Paris attacks with an outpouring of “noise and light”. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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