Troops take to Belgian streets to guard against attacks

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2015 9:41 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium is deploying hundreds of troops to guard potential targets of terrorism, including Jewish sites and diplomatic missions, following a series of raids and arrests, the defence minister said on Saturday.

Up to 300 military will be stationed at locations such as the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Brussels and NATO and EU institutions.

Troops will reinforce police at least until Thursday, when authorities will review the national threat level, set at 3 on a scale of 4 this week.

"It's very important to say that this wasn't a simple decision. But it was necessary, at a time when police are overly engaged, for the army to enter in a supporting role," Defense Minister Steven Vandeput told reporters.

On Thursday, two gunmen were killed in the Belgian town of Verviers during raids on an Islamist group that authorities said was planning to attack police.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Barbara Lewis; editing by Andrew Roche)