Millions of people around the world welcomed in the New Year on high security alert, with Munich stations evacuated over an imminent terror threat and fireworks cancelled in Paris and Brussels, while a huge fire ripped through a Dubai hotel.
German police warned people to stay away from two of Munich’s railway stations and avoid large gatherings after “indications that a terror attack” was being planned by Islamists in the southern German city.
Authorities said early today the threat involved a suspected suicide bomb attack by the Islamic State group. A police spokeswoman told AFP they had “reliable information” that the plot targeted festivities under way on New Year’s Eve.
Elsewhere in Europe, terror fears also loomed large, with firework displays canceled in Brussels and Paris, just weeks after jihadists killed 130 people on the streets of the French capital.
More than 100,000 police were deployed throughout France to guard celebrations, as defiant Parisians turned out on the Champs Elysees to greet 2016 in the biggest public gatherings since the November 13 attacks.
In his New Year address, President Francois Hollande said France “has not finished with terrorism yet” and that the threat of another attack “remains at its highest level.”
Belgian police were holding five people over an alleged New Year attack plot in Brussels, as well as arresting a 10th suspect over the Paris attacks.
In Dubai, a vast blaze ripped through a luxury 63-story hotel, the Address Downtown, close to the world’s tallest tower where people had gathered to ring in the New Year.
But authorities put on a spectacular show, refusing to let the hotel blaze, which injured 16 people, disrupt celebrations.
Festivities went ahead as planned and crowds cheered the arrival of 2016 with bursts of light and colour in a massive fireworks show starting at the landmark Burj Khalifa skyscraper, even as smoke billowed from the nearby blaze.
Sydney, traditionally the first to host a major New Year’s bash, kicked off the global festivities when it lit up the skies with pyrotechnics at the stroke of midnight.
After Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, the chimes of midnight will finally move across the Americas.
Jakarta remained on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.
Turkish police detained two Islamic State suspects allegedly planning to stage attacks in the centre of the capital Ankara.