Belgium lowers terror threat level to pre-attacks status

Belgium has reduced its terror threat level after three years on high alert. Prime Minister Charles Michel said there will still be “occasional exceptions” to the level, including soldiers guarding key sites.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced on Monday that the country’s terror threat level was being reduced to level two, indicating there was “little likelihood” of an attack.

“The national security council has been informed of the official communication of the lowering of the threat level from three to two,” Michel told a news conference.

Michel cautioned that the lower warning was “not the same level two as before.” He added that there would be “occasional exceptions” to the threat level, including the continued stationing of soldiers at certain sites.

Michel’s spokesman Frederic Cauderlier told news agency AFP that soldiers would continue to be stationed at certain areas throughout the country, including sporting events. Religious sites such as synagogues and strategic sites like nuclear power stations are also included in the extra safety measures, reported Belgian media.

Level not seen since 2015

The western European country has lived under a threat level of three or higher on the four-step-scale since January 2015 when a terror cell planning an attack on police was busted in the town of Verviers. A level three warning means a terror attack is “possible and likely.”

Later that year, Belgium raised its terror threat level temporarily to its highest level of four following the November 2015 attacks in nearby Paris, France where extremists affiliated with the militant “Islamic State” (IS) group carried out shootings and bombings which killed 130 people.

Belgium’s threat alert was also temporarily raised to its highest level of four — indicating a “serious and imminent threat” — in March 2016 after 32 people were killed in IS suicide bomb attacks that targeted Brussels airport and a metro station.

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