Belgians respond to terror alert in Brussels with cat pictures on Twitter

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Brussels remained under partial lockdown Monday after police carried out raids around the Belgian capital amid warnings of possible terrorist attacks similar to those that killed 130 people in Paris 10 days ago.

Five more people were arrested Sunday night, bringing to 21 the number of people arrested in raids across Brussels and in Charleroi, another Belgian city, said federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt.

The operation also didn’t uncover Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November 13 attacks on Paris who fled to Belgium in the aftermath and remains on the loose.

As the work week begins in Brussels, a major European capital, schools, shopping malls and the subway remain closed. Soldiers and heavily armed police are out in force on the streets, and people have been warned to avoid large gatherings.

Officials haven’t detailed the “serious and imminent threat” announced late Friday, looming over a city that draws millions of visitors every year and houses key European Union institutions.

“We are talking of a threat of several individuals with weapons and explosives, to launch acts, maybe even in several places at once,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Saturday, a description with chilling echoes of the Paris attacks the week before.

Michel said Sunday evening that the terrorism alert level for Brussels would stay at 4, the highest level, going into Monday. The alert level for the rest of the nation remains unchanged at 3.

Police made a request to the public on Twitter to remain silence about the counter-terror operations on social media in order to not alert potential targets of the raids or where police were. Belgians, who chose not to give in to the fear of potential terrorism, obeyed police and flooded Twitter with photos of cats.

Hundreds and hundreds of cat photos and memes were posted on Twitter with the hash tag #BrusselsLockdown.


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