- `Precise and imminent threat' seen in Belgian capital
- Two suicide bombers in Paris used migrant route to enter EU
Authorities placed Brussels, home to at least three of the jihadists behind the Paris attacks, under alert this weekend because of a “precise and imminent threat,” as the leaders of France and the U.K. hailed a United Nations vote for a global assault on Islamic State.
Many Parisians marked a week since the shootings and explosions of Nov. 13 by dancing defiantly or grieving quietly on Friday night outside the concert hall, cafes and restaurants targeted by the killers. With the manhunt continuing, investigators said two of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France in the suburb of Saint Denis had entered the European Union on a route used by migrants.
The Belgian government raised the terror alert in the capital, Brussels, to its highest level, shut the transit system and warned people to avoid shopping centers and concert venues. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the metro would be closed until Sunday afternoon.
“We have precise information that outlines the risk of an attack similar to the one that unfolded in Paris,” Michel said at a news conference Saturday in Brussels. “It is a threat based on the theory that it would take place with arms and explosives, maybe even in several places and at the same time.”
In Brussels, the European Commission restricted access to its buildings in response to the terror alert, spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said in an text message.
The UN Security Council resolution, adopted 15-0 late Friday, branded Islamic State “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security.” Member states must stem the flow of fighters joining the terror group by “all necessary measures” and take steps that will cut its financing.
French President Francois Hollande applauded the resolution, which had been requested by France after Europe’s worst terrorist attack in a decade killed 130 people and injured another 352, as a contribution to "the mobilization of nations for the elimination" of Islamic State, his office said in a statement.
“The international community has come together and has resolved to defeat this evil, which threatens people of every country and every religion,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter. The vote “shows beyond doubt the breadth of international support for doing more in Syria and for decisive action to eradicate” Islamic State.
In the wake of the Paris violence, finger-print analysis revealed that two suicide bombers at the Stade de France were both checked in Greece on Oct. 3, a Paris prosecutor said in a statement. EU governments agreed on Friday to tighten passport checks at the 28-nation bloc’s outer border in response to the attacks. This followed months of argument over the EU’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
A three-month extension of a state of emergency decreed by Hollande came into force on Saturday, allowing the government to ban public demonstrations, carry out searches without warrants and place people under house arrest without a court order.
In the capital of Mali, an African country facing an Islamist rebellion, a 10-day state of emergency was declared after troops ended a siege lasting some 10 hours by gunmen at the Radisson Blu Hotel. The attackers had entered the hotel firing weapons and trapping as many as 170 people inside. Two gunmen were killed, the army said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned the attack in Mali, which killed three Chinese nationals, and promised to step up cooperation with the international community to fight terrorism, according to a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.