New Year’s Celebrations Halted Amid Terrorist Security Fears

New Year’s celebrations around the world were halted or affected by fears of terrorist threats. Belgium, France, and Russia were among the countries to cancel their annual celebrations, while increased security was seen in many capital cities. In London, all armed police annual leave was cancelled, while New York deployed more than 6,000 security officials, including many in plain clothes, to try and ensure that terrorist atrocities such as those witnessed in Paris earlier in the year did not mar the ringing in of the New Year.

Although train stations were closed for several hours in Germany, they were reopened and there were no reports of major incidents occurring. There are widespread concerns that terrorist groups will look to seek revenge following recent air-strikes and military action taken against them by Europe and other countries. The fear of such action has also led to debate over whether cities other than London have enough armed police to be able to cope with any kind of a major attack, and there is talk of regional centres offering greater access to armed units.

Although Paris cancelled the main fireworks display at the Champs Elysees, they did still host the country’s largest New Year get together, amid considerably heightened security. Still reeling from the atrocities earlier in the year, which saw more than 100 people killed in a series of coordinated attacks in the French capital, and 11,000 police and, army personnel and firefighters were deployed across the capital with a total of 60,000 across the whole country.

Belgium, on the other hand, cancelled all of its events in the capital of Brussels. Belgian officials said that they had received intelligence on possible attacks, and made 8 arrests in the days leading up to the New Year, including arrests of people planning attacks on emblematic sites, while another man was questioned over his role in the November Paris attacks. The Belgian mayor announced that the celebration had had to be cancelled because it was “better not to take any risks.†Moscow also cancelled their annual celebrations, stating that it was well known that they were a principal target for terrorists.

In Germany, there were security concerns in the hours leading up to celebrations. Two train stations were evacuated an hour before midnight, in Munich, but celebrations went ahead as planned and the stations were reopened hours later, with no reports of incident or attack. It was widely reported that German officials had received a tip-off, allegedly from France, that an attack was being planned but they said that they had no idea whether the names were even real, let alone whether the alleged attackers were even in Germany, let alone in Munich.

In London, 2,000 armed police officers had their annual leave cancelled, and 6,000 police and other officials were deployed across the capital. It is the first time that all leave has been cancelled for a New Year celebration, and many critics have pointed to the lack of armed units in other cities across the UK – something that is to be discussed by Parliament in a bid to find ways to improve security across the country.