Belgium on guard for July 21 national day after Nice attack; UK reviewing security measures

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at a press conference after an extraordinary State National Security Councilium in Brussels, Belgium, on July 15, 2016.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at a press conference after an extraordinary State National Security Councilium in Brussels, Belgium, on July 15, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgium will beef up security for next week's (July 21) national day celebrations after the truck attack in the French city of Nice on Bastille Day, Prime Minister Charles Michel said Friday (July 15).

Meanwhile in London, Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was reviewing whether the UK needed to do more to boost its own security.

Belgium is already on high alert after terror attacks in March claimed by the Islamic State group on Brussels airport and on the city's metro system left 32 people dead.

"We are determined to show that democracy is stronger than the terrorists," Michel told a news briefing in Brussels.

"We of course intend to take extra measures for events linked to the national holiday (on July 21)," Michel said.

Michel said that despite the Nice attacks Belgium was keeping its terror alert level at the second-highest level of three, which means a threat is possible and likely.

 

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Belgian authorities had previously anticipated a possible truck-style attack before the Nice carnage, in which at least 84 revellers were killed, Michel added.

"Without revealing our plans, we were already wary to the idea of this type of scenario," Michel said.

Several of those involved in the Brussels bloodshed were directly linked to the November attacks in Paris which left 130 dead.

Belgian authorities last month charged two men with terrorist offences amid reports of a planned attack on a Euro 2016 fanzone in central Brussels.

In London, May said on Friday Britain stood shoulder to shoulder with France after the Nice attack that killed over 80 people and was reviewing Britain's own security.

"I will speak to President (Francois) Hollande today and make clear that the United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with France today as we have done so often in the past," she said.

"The threat level here in the United Kingdom is already at severe, that means that a terrorist attack is highly likely,"she added in broadcast remarks.

"Senior officials today will be reviewing what more we can do to ascertain whether there is any further action we need to take."

May, who took over as prime minister on Wednesday with the job of steering Britain out of the European Union, said her deputy national security adviser would chair the review.

British police are reviewing security plans for large public events next week, a spokeswoman for May said later on Friday.

“The police are looking at the security situation and are reviewing security around large public events taking place in the UK over the next seven days,” she told reporters. 

“That’s the prudent, cautious, right thing to do in this sort of situation.”

The spokeswoman said a small number of British nationals had been injured in the attack.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also said he was reassessing security levels in the British capital.

Offering his sympathies to the people of Nice over the "unspeakable act of terror", Khan said: "today we will be reviewing our own safety measures in light of this attack."