Soldiers and police patrol past closed shops as the Belgian capital remains on the highest possible alert level. (Emmanuel Dunand, AFP)
AP, on News24
Brussels - Belgian government minister says that the security forces staged a series of raids late Sunday to avoid an imminent attack in Brussels.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that "indeed, there were indications that there would be attacks on Sunday evening and they did not materialise."
The minister told VRT network that "otherwise, you don't impose terror level 4," the highest possible level when the threat is assessed as "serious and imminent."
That Sunday, authorities detained 16 people but released all but one the next day. The raids yielded no explosives or firearms and the Paris fugitive Salah Abdeslam remained at large.
Jambon refused to elaborate what kind of attacks the government believed had been planned.
The Belgian government on Wednesday ordered health and emergency services in Belgium to take special precautionary measures to make sure their services are not infiltrated by violent extremists.
Health Minister Maggie De Block told VRT network that "we have to be sure that we can see everybody has an identification badge".
She says, "When ambulances arrive, we have to see from where they come, who is in it. Really as a precaution."