Authorities in the Belgian capital Brussels have called off the city’s traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display, as terrorist fears prompt extra security and closures across Europe.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors said two people suspected of plotting an attack in Brussels on New Year’s Eve had been arrested during house searches in different parts of the country.
“Together with the interior minister, we’ve decided to not have the celebrations,” Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur told the state broadcaster RTBF on Thursday morning (AEDT).
Belgium’s decision came after Russian authorities closed off Red Square in Moscow, a popular spot to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
The Kremlin claimed the closure was at the request of a film crew working there.
The film company denied it had any plans to use the square, prompting speculation the real reason was terrorist threats from Islamic State (IS), which has vowed to revenge Russian bombings in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish police also claimed to have detained two suspected suicide bombers linked to IS, who were allegedly plotting an attack on New Year’s Eve in the capital.
Turkish officials said the two men, reportedly both Turks, were planning to attack Kizilay square in the centre of the capital Ankara, where crowds usually gather on December 31 to celebrate the New Year.
“They are suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State and were planning an attack on the New Year in Ankara,” an official said, asking not to be named.
The suspects, identified as M.C. and A.Y., had already carried out surveillance on potential targets, according to the Ankara governor’s office.
They had planned to strike two separate spots in Kizilay — one outside a big shopping mall and the second in a street packed with pubs.
Police also confiscated one suicide bomb vest, one bomb mechanism with ball bearings and one rucksack with bomb-making materials, the governor’s office said.
Television footage showed police with bomb-sniffing dogs searching the building where the two men were caught and the surrounding area.
-with ABC and AAP