Belgian terror raid puts Europe on high alert
Brussels: Belgium was on high alert today after two suspected jihadists were killed in a police raid, while German and French police made fresh arrests to put Europe on edge a week after the Islamist attacks in Paris.
The series of raids across the continent highlighted fears about young Europeans travelling to fight war with the Islamic State and other extremist groups in the Middle East, and then returning to launch attacks on western targets.
In Belgium, officials said they had averted “imminent” large-scale attacks on police targets after raiding a terror cell in the eastern town of Verviers, near the German border, whose members had recently come back from Syria.
Police shot dead the two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man, while there were several search operations in Brussels and its suburbs.
Prime Minister Charles Michel raised Belgium’s terror alert to its second highest level, security was tightened and Jewish schools in the port city of Antwerp closed today due to fears of further trouble.
The raid and a series of related search operations across Belgium were now “over” but authorities were now seeking to “exploit the information” they had obtained, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said.
“The threat was to the police forces,” he said of the planned attacks. Europe has been on alert since the Islamist attacks on the French Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris last week in which 17 people were killed.