Welcoming 2016 around the world

Parties amid tight security

Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. It's almost a tradition
Sikh devotees paying their respects on the first day of the year at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. It's almost a tradition
Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. It's almost a tradition
It's almost a tradition for couples to kiss as they congregate on New Year's Eve for the countdown at New York's Times Square. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. It's almost a tradition
Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS
Fireworks going off over the Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Indonesians releasing sky lanterns to mark the new year during celebrations in Magelang, Central Java, yesterday. It's almost a tradition
Participants on Thursday preparing to enter the 4 deg C water of the Moossee at Moosseedorf, Switzerland, for their traditional New Year's Eve swim. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Massive police presence in face of terror threat as millions celebrate

NEW YORK • Millions welcomed the New Year with champagne and cheers yesterday, although tightened security put a damper on festivities in Europe, where Germany evacuated stations over an imminent terror threat, and elsewhere.

In New York, around 6,000 police were watching over a bustling Times Square as Mayor Bill Blasio flicked the switch, sending the city's massive glittering glass ball down in the final seconds of 2015. Colourful confetti fluttered in the cool night air as the boisterous crowd roared with glee, mirroring similar scenes of revelry which took place around the world.

But after a year in which Islamist militants staged a wave of deadly attacks, sowing carnage from Paris to California, the celebrations were held in tight security, with New York police describing it as the biggest security operation in the city's history.

Also in the US, officials said they had arrested and charged a 25-year-old American Muslim convert over an alleged attempt to launch a New Year's Eve attack in upstate New York in the name of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Since the Paris attacks in November, which saw ISIS militants slaughtering 130 people in a series of gun and suicide attacks, Europe has been on high alert, with France and Belgium cancelling their traditional New Year firework displays in their respective capitals.

  • Bookends: Resolutions

  • HELP, DON'T HINDER

    Congress should resolve that it will allow the Parliament to function.

    INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI, urging the main opposition Congress party to make a New Year's resolution not to disrupt Parliament


    PLEDGE
     

    Security at every stage of your life.

    BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON, reiterating in a New Year's message that his government will continue delivering what was promised in the Tory general election manifesto last year



    LESS DEPENDENCE

    To live more in the present and less on my phone.

    KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN, reality TV star



    EASY WAY OUT

    I usually make ones that are like, I want to gain a lot of abdominal weight. That way, I'm not disappointed.

    CONAN O'BRIEN, late night American talk show host and comedian



    RARING TO GO

    I'm ready for 2016 - are you?

    US SUPERSTAR SERENA WILLIAMS, who came close to reaching tennis' Holy Grail last year by winning the first three of the four major championships within a calendar year. She was thwarted at the final one which was, ironically, the US Open. The last woman to achieve this feat was German Steffi Graf in 1988.

And just half an hour before the celebrations began in Germany, police evacuated two stations in the southern city of Munich after receiving "reliable information" about a plot to carry out a suicide attack at midnight by ISIS militants.

In France, more than 100,000 police were deployed to guard celebrations, as defiant Parisians turned out on the Champs Elysees to greet 2016 in the biggest public gatherings since the Nov 13 attacks.

In Belgium, police were holding five people over an alleged New Year plot in Brussels, as they also announced the arrest of a 10th suspect linked to the Paris attacks.

In Moscow, police for the first time closed off Red Square, where tens of thousands of revellers traditionally gather. Britain deployed around 3,000 officers across central London in a reportedly unprecedented security effort, while in Italy, fireworks were banned in towns and cities due to fears that the loud explosions could spark panic.

In Turkey, police detained two ISIS suspects allegedly planning attacks in the capital Ankara.

Sydney, traditionally the first to host a major New Year's bash, kicked off the global festivities when it lit up the skies with pyrotechnics at the stroke of midnight.

Jakarta, meanwhile, remained on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.

Elsewhere in Asia, celebrations were reported to be muted in China over security fears, while in the Philippines, nearly 400 were injured, thousands lost their homes to a huge blaze, and a 45-year-old man who hugged a lethal firecracker was killed, as Filipinos marked the new year by setting off firecrackers and shooting guns into the air.

In Brazil, an estimated two million people watched fireworks over the sea at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro which will later this year host the Olympics. Alongside the party, swarms of worshippers dressed in white waded into the ocean to leave offerings for Yemanja, the goddess of the sea in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble faith.

Sierra Leone's capital Freetown was hoping to reclaim its mantle as host of the best beach parties in Africa after Ebola scared people away. "This New Year's Eve, I am going to dance and party until the cock crows," said 35-year-old Franklyn Smith.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Parties amid tight security'. Print Edition | Subscribe