1:51 pm - Monday June 17, 2024

Belgium terror arrests: Cops launch more overnight raids in hunt for ‘Jihadi cells’

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The operations come after two suspected Islamists were killed and a third arrested during a gun battle with cops in the Belgian town of Verviers yesterday

Cops in Belgium have launched further raids overnight in search of suspected Jihadi cells following yesterday’s gun battle in Verviers.

The operations took place late on Thursday in Brussels and surrounding towns, including Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Anderlecht and Schaerbeek.

It is unclear how many arrests were made, and no casualties have so far been reported.

Earlier yesterday two suspected Islamist terrorists were killed and another man arrested during a fire fight in the town of Verviers, near the Belgian border with Germany.

The video above appears to show the dramatic moment counter-terrorism police raided the suspected cell.

Shots and explosions were heard, including machine gun fire, as officers moved in.

It follows three days of violence in nearby France, which saw 20 people, including three IS and Al Qaeda linked terrorists, killed.Hooded commandos were seen in Verviers, near Liege, shortly before 6pm, and according to Belgian prosecutors they were trying to arrest Islamic extremists newly returned from fighting in Syria.

Beyond the two dead – a ‘number of people were also arrested,’ said the local judicial source.

The worst violence was witnessed around the town station, with the situation ‘under control by 7pm,’ according to the same source.

One witness said: ‘There were police announcements to clear the area around six o’clock. We could see lots of police vehicles, and officers in balaclavas.

‘Most of the police vehicles were in Rue du College, and there were clearly anti-terrorist officers on the street.

‘There were three of four explosions, and then continual gunfire. It was terrifying, but the police brought the situation under control.’Automatic weapons and a rocket launcher used in the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks in Paris were purchased from Belgian gangs, police said earlier this week.

The Scorpion machine gun and the Tokarev handgun used by Amedy Coulibaly during his attack on the kosher supermarket which resulted in the deaths of four Jewish Parisians came from Brussels and Charleroi.

And the Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers used by the Kouachi brothers to attack the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, killing 12, were purchased by Coulibaly near the Gare du Midi in Brussels for less than £4,000.

In 2010, Islamist radicals and crime gangs in Belgium worked to procure weapons in order to organise a prison break for Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, architect of the 1995 terror attacks on Paris’s St Michel Metro station.

Belgian prosecutors are working with the French to establish any ‘possible link’ to last week’s attacks in Paris.

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