Guests at the Radisson Blu in Brussels have been warned to stay in the hotel for their own safety as police and soldiers carried out raids in central Brussels tonight. Others were escorted out of local restaurants as the city remains in lockdown following fears of a Paris style attack.
Armed soldiers have been pictured outside the hotel this evening, while the surrounding area appears to have been evacuated. A spokesperson for the hotel told DeMorgen: "There is no imminent threat, but we want our guests to keep as safe as possible."
Davide Patteri, an Italian living in Brussels, tweeted: "Eating out, police just shut the whole street and now no-one can get out of the restaurant."
Eyewitnesses have reported hearing gunshots in the city centre.
It is not yet known what sparked the raids. The alert comes after ten jihadists attacked a Radisson Blu hotel in Mali and held around 170 people hostage. At least 27 people were killed in the raid. Brussels is in lock-down for a third day after Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said schools, universities and the underground system would have to remain closed tomorrow amid fears of a repeat of the simultaneous gun and bomb attacks in the French capital.
"We fear an attack like in Paris, with several individuals, perhaps in several places," Mr Michel warned after a meeting of the country's national security council. He said the decision to keep Brussels on lockdown was based on "quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris". Mr Michel added: "We urge the public not to give in to panic, to stay calm. We have taken the measures that are necessary."
Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon said armed officers on the streets were looking for 'several suspects' including Salah Abdeslam. The 26-year-old fugitive has been on the run after gunning down crowds of Friday night revelers in cafes and bars on 13 November, in a bloody massacre that left 130 people dead. He added: "We are following the situation minute by minute... There is a real threat but we are doing everything possible day and night to face up to this situation."
Earlier the offices of Belgian commercial TV station VTM were evacuated due to a possible terror threat. Brussels' metro station and shopping malls remained closed over the weekend as soldiers patrolled the streets and the public was warned to avoid crowded areas. A number of concerts and sports matches were cancelled on Saturday.
Six British nationals were arrested by Belgian police near Brussels on 21 November. The men were seen driving three old ambulances 20 miles from the capital city, inside which there were clothes, food and money. There has been speculation that the men were on their way to Syria. They are now said to be cooperating with the authorities.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will join French president Francois Hollande in Paris tomorrow morning to discuss the fight against IS as the UK is expected to join allied air strikes against IS targets in Syria. The PM is to present his case for escalating British military involvement to Parliament later this week.