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Belgian army to protect nuclear sites - interior ministry

Steam escapes from the cooling tower of the Tihange nuclear power station, one of the two large-scale nuclear power plants in Belgium, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium has ordered its military to protect nuclear sites such as power plants in the country to safeguard them against possible militant attacks, the country’s interior ministry said on Friday.

Some 140 soldiers will be mobilised to protect locations such as Belgium’s two nuclear power plants at Tihange and Doel as well as nuclear research and storage facilities, a spokesman for the interior ministry said.

“We are setting up a special police unit for this sort of security task but that will take some time for it to be operational,” the spokesman said, adding that the army would take over in the meantime.

In February, Belgian investigators searching houses linked to suspects in the Islamist militant attacks in Paris last November found a video tracking movements of a man linked to the country’s nuclear industry.

The spokesman said there was no direct link between the discovery of the video and the decision to take the additional security measures.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Gareth Jones