Terror in the heart of Europe: British security services on high alert after double attacks in Brussels

Brussels Airport And Metro Rocked By Explosions
The EU flag was at half mast outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels yesterday (Source: Getty)

British security services are on high alert after Brussels was hit by what are thought to be double suicide attacks, leaving at least 31 people dead.

Police believe at least 11 people were killed in two explosions at Zaventem Airport. A further 80 people are thought to have been wounded in the blast.

Belgian media reported that a further 20 people were killed in the Maalbeek metro station attack and scores wounded, 10 critically. The station is near to European Union head offices. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

In the Square Mile, the City of London Police said it was continuing its Project Servator initiative, involving high-visibility policing tactics throughout the City.

“Protecting the City as a global financial centre remains a key priority for the City of London Police, and, as the nature of the threat evolves, deterrence measures need to develop accordingly,” the City of London Police said.

Robert Hall, who directs London First’s Security and Resilience Network, advising London businesses on how to deal with security threats, told City A.M. that the police and government “have a message to try to reassure the public” and ask Londoners to “be vigilant”.

“There is nothing more that they can do at this stage,” Hall said. “It is absolutely human nature that we all see these pictures of devastation in Brussels, and we are concerned and we feel uneasy around that. But any individual being a victim of terrorism is about as remote as being hit by lighting.”

The current UK terrorist threat level remains “severe”, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.

But London mayor Boris Johnson told reporters yesterday the government has “no intelligence that suggests there is any imminent plan against this city”.

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley echoed Johnson’s comments, saying additional officers would be carrying out “highly visible patrols at key locations around the capital, including the transport network”.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired an emergency Cobra meeting with ministers and top intelligence officials yesterday morning to discuss the UK response to the attacks.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman confirmed that the government had stepped up security at airports and other “key locations” throughout the country, including St Pancras International Station, where Eurostar trains connect London to Brussels.

The government has also warned against travelling to Brussels, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updating its travel advice for British nationals yesterday afternoon: “The Belgian authorities are currently advising against travel to Brussels. You are advised to follow the instructions of the Belgian security authorities.”

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