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U.K. beefs up security following Brussels blasts

Security in the United Kingdom, where the threat level is already “severe” following last November’s Paris blasts, has been stepped up further after the Brussels attacks.

European countries are waking up to the strength and resilience of terror cells that were believed to have been on the backfoot after the Paris attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the U.K. faced a “very real terror threat” following the “appalling and savage terrorist attacks” that took place in Belgium. He called for countries in Europe to stand together as “they could just as well be attacks in Britain or France or Germany.”

The Prime Minister had a 40-minute meeting of the emergency COBRA committee to assess the threat. It was attended by senior cabinet ministers, as well as intelligence and police chiefs. According to Mr. Cameron’s spokeswoman who briefed the press after the meeting, the British police, M15, M16 and GCHQ experts have offered specialist help to the Belgian authorities.

An Indian journalist based in Brussels said that the blasts reflect a “huge security failure” on the part of the Belgian government. “Despite the presence of security after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, bombs were placed in the airport and a central station in the heart of Brussels. How could this happen under their noses?” Nawab Khan, a Brussels-based freelance reporter asked. “The backlash will be on the European refugee policy.”

The government has stepped up security at Heathrow and Gatwick, and at other transport hubs, including St. Pancras Railway Station and the tube network. .

Candidates running for the Mayoral elections in May have responded to the attack. Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate for Mayor, in a television interview, appealed for “community intelligence” to pool resources with state-run efforts to apprehend terror threats before they happened.

London mayor Boris Johnson told Sky News: “We are stepping up a presence at transport hubs and major airports, but that is purely for the purpose of reassurance and does not reflect any intelligence we have about a threat to London.”

In the UK, where in recent weeks political passions have been running high over the Brexit campaign, it is expected that the Brussels blasts will provide ammunition for both sides of the debate, with the ‘in’ group arguing that terrorism can only be fought by Europe collectively, and the ‘out’ group pressing for Britain to get out of the EU if it is to be safe.


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Printable version | Sep 26, 2022 8:21:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/U.K.-beefs-up-security-following-Brussels-blasts/article14169531.ece