Top Stories


    Jan 01, 2016

    Brussels cancels New Year's Eve festivities


    BRUSSELS on Wednesday cancelled New Year's Eve celebrations due to terrorism fears as Europe prepared to see in 2016 under tight security, while in Turkey, police detained two Islamic State suspects over a plot to attack Ankara.

    Belgian authorities said a firework display and festivities to welcome the new year that drew 100,000 people last year will not go ahead, after revealing an alleged terrorist plan to attack the capital during the holiday.

    The decision came the day after two people were arrested on suspicion of preparing attacks on "emblematic sites" in Brussels during the celebrations and after another man was questioned over links to last month's Paris attacks.

    "Unfortunately, we have been forced to cancel the fireworks and all that was planned for tomorrow (today) evening," mayor Yvan Mayeur told Belgian broadcaster RTBF. "It's better not to take any risks."

    Despite safety concerns, Sydney stuck to its plans for the celebrations from the Harbour Bridge and Opera House - traditionally the world's first major event to ring in the new year - with its biggest fireworks display ever.

    In Paris, where 130 people were killed by Islamists on Nov 13, the annual fireworks display on the Champs-Elysees has been called off and 11,000 police, soldiers and firefighters will patrol the French capital.

    Moscow's Red Square, traditionally a place where people gather to ring in the new year, will be closed to revellers on Dec 31 while Vienna has also beefed up security ahead of the celebrations.

    In New York City, where 1 million people pack into Times Square every year, officials said that 6,000 officers, some plain-clothes, will be on hand to watch over celebrations.

    In Turkey, meanwhile, officials said two Islamic State suspects, reportedly both Turks, were planning to stage suicide bombings in the centre of the capital Ankara, which is expected to be packed with revellers on the night of Dec 31.

    Turkey has been on a high security alert since October, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of peace activists in Ankara, killing 103 people in the worst attack in the country's modern history.

    According to the private NTV television, counter-terrorism police arrested the pair in the Mamak district on the outskirts of the capital, which is home to more than 5 million people.