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Brussels cancels central New Year's fireworks display over terror threat

The city's mayor Yvan Mayeur has announced the cancellation of the fireworks display on New Year's Eve in the Belgian capital. It follows fresh intelligence of possible terrorist attacks.

The decision was made on the advice of the country's coordinating center for crisis management, OCAM. Mayeur said he received its report on Wednesday evening and, after consulting the Interior Ministry, decided to cancel the event at the central Grand-Place.

"It is better not to take risks," Mayeur told public broadcaster RTBF, who also tweeted the news.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel expressed solidarity with the "delicate, difficult decision" taken, adding in an interview with RTBF that it was the "correct" choice.

Earlier this week, Belgian police arrested two people in different parts of the country on suspicion of plotting an attack in the capital on New Year's Eve, federal prosecutors said.

The two suspects, who are likely to appear in court on Thursday, belong to the Kamikaze Riders, a motorbike club whose members are mostly of North African origin and whose bike stunts can be seen in various online videos.

Belgium has been on high alert since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, as several of the perpetrators had links to the country. Belgium has seen a high number of its nationals involved in terrorist, Islamist activities in Syria and Iraq, mainly with the "Islamic State" (IS).

ng/jil (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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