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Vienna attacks: Security increased in Antwerp's Jewish Quarter, Belgian threat level remains unchanged

Illustration picture shows soldiers walking in the Jewish neighborhood close to the Antwerp Centraal railway station in Antwerp (BELGA PHOTO)
07:58 04/11/2020

Antwerp police have stepped up security measures in the Jewish quarter, boosting those already in place in relation to the current terror threat level, a spokesman for mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever has confirmed.

The decision was taken in the wake of the terrorist attack in Vienna on Monday night. "The police are following the information closely as always," the spokesman added.

Four people were killed, and 15 others were injured, in a series of shootings in the Austrian capital. One of the attackers, a sympathiser of the Islamic State group according to the Austrian interior ministry, was shot dead by police. One of the attacks took place near a synagogue, although it is not known at this stage whether the place of worship was specifically targeted.

The overall threat level in Belgium remains at two, on a scale of four, after the Vienna attacks, the Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis (Ocam) confirmed on Tuesday. This "average" level means that a threat is unlikely.

Ocam assesses and, if necessary, updates the threat level after each incident abroad. "There is no reason to review the threat level because there is no concrete evidence to that effect,” the Ocam statement said. “Based on the information currently available, level two is therefore maintained. The body continues to monitor developments closely.”

On Tuesday, Belgium’s interior minister Annelies Verlinden responded to the Vienna attacks via Twitter: “My thoughts are with the Austrians, who were affected yesterday by an act of cowardice. We will contact the Austrian authorities and closely monitor the threat in our country."

The Vienna shootings come after a knife attack at a church in Nice, an attack on an Orthodox priest in Lyon and the beheading in the street of a teacher who had shown his students caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in the Paris region. After each of these attacks, Belgium’s threat level also remained unchanged, but with increased attention paid to French diplomatic interests in the country.

Written by Nick Amies