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Intense security marks New Year’s celebrations around the world

Police were deployed for New Year's Eve in several cities around the world after ISIS incited its followers to attack Western metropolitan areas with a gruesome series of propaganda posters and videos.

Published: January 1, 2018, 9:34 am

    Intense security marked most events around the world, and in the US, law enforcement agencies had prepared for New Year’s Eve celebrations for weeks.

    ISIS released a video showing an explosion at Big Ben, in London, a train coming off its tracks and a car ramming pedestrians in a street. The video instructs followers to target Christmas markets, clubs and churches.

    Armed police with dog units were out on the streets of London last night after ISIS threatened to unleash “New Year’s Eve hell” in the capital.

    There were also ISIS posters showing scenes of devastation in cities around the world titled “Wait for us on your New Year parties” and “soon on your holidays”. These videos have not been banned from social media.

    London Metropolitan Police Superintendent Nick Aldworth told the Daily Mail that undercover officers would be mixing with the crowds to monitor the celebrations. “People coming into London will see armed police officers, they will see other technical measures such as cameras and security notices, what they won’t see are some covert resources that are here to look after them.”

    He attempted to quell fears of an attack after it became known that the number of officers deployed were being limited by funding . “You’ll understand that the planning for these events is very, very detailed, it’s done by a very, very expert team. They’ve assessed the number of officers that we need.”

    A ring of steel was erected at Trafalgar Square, the Southbank and Waterloo Bridge, for the firework displays. Fences were reinforced with metal barriers along the Embankment and vehicle obstacles were set up around bridges.

    In Edinburgh, Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations also saw hundreds of security staff with armed police on the streets of the Scottish capital as tens of thousands of people celebrated the final day of 2017.

    Princes Street, where celebrations were taking place was temporarily closed due to “weather-related debris” but opened again for Sunday evening.

    German cities too saw a massively increased police presence. North Rhine-Westphalia, deployed 5700 officers across the state, including an initial contingent of 1 400 in Cologne.

    In the US cities of New York and Las Vegas anti-terror squads were deployed ahead of festivities. Las Vegas’ Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the Los Angeles Times that there would be more snipers, aircraft surveillance and more than 4 000 metal barricades along the city’s famous Strip, which will be pedestrianised for the celebration ringing in the new year.

    Officers with specialised training to stop suicide bombers were on patrol on Times Square in New York to help protect up to two million people attending the countdown for this year. Rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs and thousands of officers of the NYPD ensured a safe start to 2018.

    New York’s security plan included radiation scanners and bag checks, plus multi-ton trucks and concrete barriers to guard against vehicle attacks, CBS News reported.

    “The idea is to have enough of a visual deterrence so people will look at this and say it’s a hard target,” John Miller, the deputy commissioner in charge of counter-terrorism, explained.

    Other big cities were on high-alert last night too. Chicago police had added specialised teams with a focus on vehicle-style attacks, and for the first time, Miami conducted random security checks at outdoor events.

    In Houston, Texas, police may have prevented a terror attack, arresting an individual with guns and ammunition inside a hotel room overlooking the city’s celebrations.

    All events all went on without any major security incidents being reported so far.

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