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Belgium: Police Stations Close, Fearing Attacks

A number of police stations that don’t have security gates have closed their doors to the public after two officers were attacked in Charleroi by a machete-wielding Islamist earlier this month.

As a result of the attack, for which Islamic State claimed responsibility, all but one police station in the Hesbaye area have closed their doors to the public.

RTL reported that seven out of nine of the zone’s police stations are now inaccessible to the public. Jean-Marie Debroux, commanding officer of the policing area, said he and his colleagues made the decision to shut the station after hearing about the attack in Charleroi.

He said: “I decided with my colleagues — we did not wait for specific instructions. Given the circumstances, I cannot jeopardise the safety of police staff.”

In an interview with RTL-TVi, senior police inspector Alain Hella disclosed that security has also tightened with regards to private appointments with citizens.

He said: “Depending on the call that has been registered we will contact them, and open the door to that person. Of course, after meeting we then shut the station up again so that the public can’t gain access to the premises”.

Mr. Debroux commented that police, even in the rural station in Hesbaye where he was interviewed, needed to remain vigilant.

“This is a relatively quiet area. There is no problem with radicalism here. But note that Verviers is not far away. We are not immune to anything,” he told the media.

Members of an Islamic State terror cell stationed in Verviers were jailed last month.

Verviers’ mayor, Muriel Targnion, exclaimed that the police commander’s remarks give “the impression that [Verviers is like] Baghdad”. She added: “I think I’ll invite [Mr. Debroux] to visit, as Verviers remains a pleasant city.”

Earlier this month, Hungary’s Foreign Minister revealed that he was frightened for his life after taking a wrong turn while visiting Belgium.

“If you get lost in Brussels, making a mistake of only two streets, you sometimes need to run for your life. It’s not an exaggeration, I was in this situation,” Péter Szijjártó recalled.

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