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Foreign Ministry warns travellers to Belgium to exercise caution

Belgium put its capital Brussels on maximum security alert Saturday, shutting the metro and warning people to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of a coordinated series of attacks by militants. Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs has warned Finnish residents in or travelling to Brussels to avoid moving about the city at night.

Suljettu metroasema Brysselissä lauantaina.
A closed underground station in Brussels on Saturday. Image: Stephanie Lecocq / EPA

Finland’s Foreign Minister has issued a travel bulletin calling for people residing or travelling to Belgium and the city of Brussels in particular to exercise caution.

The Ministry advises people in the area to precede carefully in the city centres and crowds.

Specifically, the Finnish Ministry tells people to avoid quiet streets and the metro stations of Gare du Midi/Zuidstation (the Eurostar terminal), Schuman (the EU blocks) and the central train stations of Gare Centrale and Gare du Nord.

A meeting Saturday of Belgian police, justice and intelligence officials decided to change the security threat level in Brussels to four, the top level. The rest of Belgium is at level three for the time being.

The announcement came one week after 130 deaths in Paris from a terrorist attack carried out by Islamic State militants. One suspect in the Paris attacks is still presumed to be at large in Belgium.

Soldiers were out in force in parts of Brussels Saturday, a city of 1.2 million people and home to institutions of the European Union and the headquarters of NATO.

Most shops closed by noon, as the country’s crisis centre advised the public to avoid places with crowds, such as shopping centres, concerts, sports events and public transport hubs. The city's museums and many cinemas and sports centres were shut on separate orders from the city's 19 different local mayors.

Saturday evening, the country announced that it was stepping up its border control and will forbid people from bringing bags into large-scale events in the near future.

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