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Terror threat level could fall 'in next few months'

10:00 31/12/2017

The terror threat level in Belgium could be reduced from 3 to 2 in the coming months, interior minister Jan Jambon has suggested.

The level 3 status has been in place since the Paris terror attacks in November 2015 - and rose to the highest level 4 briefly after the Brussels attacks of March 2016.

Jambon told De Standaard that he hoped Belgium's Co-ordinating Body for Threat Analysis (Ocam) would reassess the threat level "in the next few months". A return to level 2 would mean an end to military patrols on the streets - and would allow for substantial budget savings.

However, level 3 could remain in certain areas, such as the Israeli and US embassies in Brussels and the Jewish quarter in Antwerp.

Meanwhile, the presence of soldiers on Brussels' streets has been put forward as a possible explanation for a record low number of murders in 2017.

Excluding the victims of the 2016 attacks, the number of homicide cases in the capital has halved since 2004 - falling to 43 in the past year.

A spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor's office said: "It is difficult to pinpoint the causes of this decline, but one element we could consider is the increased presence of military and police on the street."