Fearing that Belgium may face the same tragedy as Paris, the city of Brussels has been on lockdown since Friday. Silence haunts the streets as officials hunt for Salah Abdeslam, a primary person-of-interest in the Paris attacks. They believe he may have fled to the small nation following the attacks in Paris. In response, the city has armed itself; troops and tanks fill the streets. Schools, subways and shops are all closed as the manhunt continues. All are supposed to reopen on Wednesday, but this is questionable as the search continues.
Twenty-one people were detained during anti-terrorist raids between Sunday and Monday, yet only one has been charged in association with the Paris attacks. Two of Abdeslam’s brothers, also accomplices to the attacks, were already killed in raids throughout Paris.
Brussels remains at the highest level of security alert until next week. The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, told a news panel on Sunday evening, “What we fear is an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations.”
On Monday evening in Paris, officials found what looked to be a suicide bomb belt dumped on a street. It appears to be similar to the ones used in the Paris attacks, but nothing is certain yet.
The city stands practically still as the central square—better known as the Grand Place—was deserted, except for a few customers. Day-to-day life has stopped for locals as shops stay closed. The annual Christmas market, which attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, was set to open this Friday, but there is some concern as to whether or not the festivities will take place. The holiday season is a very popular time for tourists and locals to shop. Many of the merchants are worried they will lose a large percentage of their income due to the shutdown.
Officials are still trying to determine the best course of action: whether to stay on lockdown at a level four threat, or bring Brussels down to a level three and let people ease back into their daily routines.