Brussels on Lockdown as Counterterror Operations Continue

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Brussels continues to be on lockdown into the early hours of Tuesday morning as authorities continue their manhunt for jihadi terrorists, leading Belgium’s Prime Minister to leave the country at its highest alert level until at least next week.

In neighboring France, security officials announced that they had found an explosive vest that was complemented by a detonator. The materials used contained the same type of explosives as the ones that were utilized for the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of over 125 people and wounded hundreds more.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel maintained that Brussels continues to face a “serious and imminent” threat that required the severe security measures to be taken. The rest of the country would remain at the second-highest security tier, he said.

Brussels schools and universities remained close into Monday. The mass transit system, along with many businesses, also remained shuttered, according to reports.

Michel said Monday that he plans on reopening Brussels schools on Wednesday, and will allow for parts of the metro system to reopen that day as well.

“We are very alert and call for caution,” Michel said, according to the Associated Press. “The potential targets remain the same; shopping centers and shopping streets and public transport. We want to return to a normal way of life as quickly as possible.”

Belgian authorities are said to be on an all-out manhunt for Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected of playing a role in the November 13 Paris attacks, and is believed to be hiding out in Brussels.

Belgium’s police and military apparatus has already detained over 21 people over the past 24 hours as part of the ongoing anti-terrorism sweep, according to the AP. Most were released without charges.

When interviewed, Belgian residents relayed common concerns that they remain fearful for their safety and for the future of their nation.

“Of course we are scared, everyone is scared here. We are scared for our children, for ourselves, for our own lives. We are scared to take public transport,” said Cathery Frederic, who work in Brussels and spoke to The Telegraph.

Some in Brussels’ dwindling Jewish community fear that with the ongoing wave of Islamic terrorism, there simply may no longer a future for them on the European continent.

“There is a sense of fear in the streets, the Belgians understand that they too are targets of terror. Jews now pray in their homes [instead of in synagogues] and some of them are planning on emigrating,” said Rabbi Abraham Gigi.