Security measures similar to those for a G8 meeting discouraged Christmas shoppers in Belgium today, as police released 14 terror suspects for lack of evidence.
The authorities maintain the group were planning to break a convicted fundamentalist terrorist out of jail, but officers have so far failed to find any weapons or explosives despite numerous raids.
Belgium’s Director of Public Order Management, Alain Lefevre, said the investigation was ongoing.
“We need to put things in perspective. We should not create panic, but the people have not been released because there are no grounds. It’s judicial procedure. We have not closed the case.”
The caretaker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt told parliament yesterday that there was a real risk of a terrorist attack during the festive season.
He did not give any details, but said the authorities believed something was being prepared.
Interior ministry officials say the heightened security measures will stay in place until after the New Year.