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Brussels Cautiously Opens For Business As Search For Suspects Continues

Army soldiers and police patrol a street in the center of Brussels on Wednesday. Students are returning to class after a shutdown over fears that a series of simultaneous attacks could be launched around the Belgian capital.
Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Four days after security levels were raised over a possible terrorist attack, the Belgian capital remains on high alert — but schools, businesses and subway stations are reopening to the public.

Police and soldiers were standing guard as life in Brussels returns to something like normal, reports NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton:

"After days of rain when commercial and public life almost came to a halt in Brussels, schools have reopened as blue skies struggle to burst through fluffy white clouds, despite a few droplets. About half of the city's metro stations are operating again and people are back at work.

"However, heavily armed soldiers with ... armored vehicles patrolling the streets of Brussels are a stark reminder that the capital of the European Union remains on the highest alert."

Teri Schultz tells our Newscast unit that stringent security standards are in place as schools go back into session. Parents are barred from entering school grounds and wave goodbye to their children from the sidewalk.

The environment of fear has affected some children: One boy told Teri he was "worried about bad guys coming into the school."

"Police officers are stationed all day at every school to make sure that can't happen," Teri says.

The elevated threat level is expected to remain in place through the beginning of next week as Belgian authorities continue to search for at least two key suspects.

Salah Abdeslam has been on the run since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and injured hundreds of others. Authorities believe the fugitive suspect rented cars and hotel rooms used by the Paris attackers. He was briefly stopped en route to Belgium after the attacks, but was released because police weren't aware at the time of his connection to the massacre.

On Tuesday, Belgian police announced that they are also seeking a man named Mohamed Abrini, who was seen with Abdeslam two days before the Paris attacks.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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