Tuesday, December 29, 2015

'Extensive' security prep in NY for New Year's Eve (mayor)

Measures to protect hundreds of thousands of revelers expected to ring in 2016 in New York are "more extensive than ever," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, amid global fears of an attack during New Year's Eve celebrations.

The Big Apple is a popular destination on December 31, with about one million people packing into Times Square every year for the countdown to midnight.

"I certainly understand that everyone's concerned and I want everyone to understand and to hear that the NYPD is ready, that the preparations for New Year's Eve are more extensive than ever," De Blasio said in a local radio interview.

"The planning is extraordinary. We'll have a huge number of police out on New Year's Eve, including a lot of our new anti-terror force, the Critical Response Command -- that's 500-plus officers ... who are specialized in preventing terror," he added.

After the Paris attacks on November 13, an Islamic State group propaganda video broadcast images of New York from Times Square.

Authorities hit back that there was no credible threat against the city or anywhere else in the United States, and have sought to reassure a jittery public.

"This is the best prepared city in this country to stop terrorism, and people should rest assured that they will be very well protected on New Year's Eve," De Blasio said.

Earlier in the day Belgian prosecutors announced that police arrested two people suspected of planning attacks in Brussels during New Year's celebrations after an investigation revealed "serious threats" against "several emblematic sites" in the capital.

One of the two was arrested on suspicion of planning attacks as well as "playing a lead role in the activities of a terrorist group and recruiting for terrorist acts."

The second faced charges of planning and "participating in the activities of a terrorist group," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The suspects were arrested during raids in the Brussels area, in Flemish Brabant and near the southern French-speaking city of Liege.


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