Western cities welcome New Year under unprecedented security
After the surge of terror attacks across Europe in 2016, the throngs ringing in the New Year in Western cities Saturday night are accompanied by exceptional security, especially counter measures against truck attacks.
New York City officials on Thursday said the estimated two million spectators expected to fill Times Square for the symbolic ball to drop will be protected by some 7,000 police officers and 65 sand-filled garbage trucks stationed to block city streets. NYPD officials say there is no specific terror threat, but they were taking no chances after trucks ploughed into crowds in Berlin and Nice.
In European capitals, police numbers have been boosted and concrete barriers erected in city centers.
In Berlin, police closed the Pariser Platz square in front of the Brandenburg Gate, after an Islamic State attack there last week killed 12 people.
In London, Scotland Yard has enlisted more than 3,000 police to patrol the streets and tourist sights, and posted armed guards at Tube stations. Security officials judge that the UK is under high terror threat.
Trucks are banned from the centers of Rome and Naples, and police and soldiers with machine guns are posted outside Rome’s Colosseum.
Heavily armed soldiers also patrol popular Paris tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre museum. But the popular fireworks display over Champs-Élysées was not canceled,
In Vienna, police handed out more than a thousand pocket alarms to women for protection against a repeat of the sexual assaults by migrants at New Year in Cologne in 2015.