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Eight arrests in Belgium on suspicion of “terrorist attack”

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Eight people were arrested in Belgium on Monday, suspected of planning an attack on Belgian soil, in two separate cases. According to the federal prosecutor’s office, if there are links between the two files, a more in-depth investigation will have to reveal to what extent these two cases were intertwined.

Eight people were arrested on Monday evening in Belgium in the context of two investigations into suspicions of a “terrorist attack”, the federal prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday March 28.

According to a judicial source contacted by AFP, the arrested are “very young radicalized” from the jihadist movement.

Potential targets have not been determined at this stage. There was talk of a planned attack in each of the two files, which have links between them, said the prosecution.

“There are links between the two files”

Five searches were carried out in Molenbeek (Brussels region), Eupen (east) and in Dutch-speaking Belgium (north) in the three Antwerp districts of Merksem, Borgerhout and Deurne, in the context of the first file, investigated in Antwerp. They resulted in five arrests, and at least two of these five suspects are suspected of having “prepared to commit a terrorist attack in Belgium”.

In the second case, investigated in Brussels, three suspects were arrested in Molenbeek, Schaerbeek (another Brussels municipality) and in Zaventem, very close to the capital. These people are also suspected of having prepared an attack on Belgian soil.

“There are links between the two files, but a more in-depth investigation will have to reveal to what extent the two cases were intertwined”, underlines the federal prosecution.

Seven years after the attacks in Brussels

Belgium was the target of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group seven years ago, which is worth to ten men – including an absent, presumed dead in Syria – to be tried currently by an assize court.

These attacks left 32 dead and more than 340 injured on March 22, 2016.

That morning, a double suicide attack took place shortly before 8 a.m. in the departures hall of Brussels-Zaventem airport. It was followed, an hour later in the metro in the European capital, by a third also perpetrated by a suicide bomber carrying explosives.

Over the past seven years, there have also been several deadly attacks against members of the forces targeted by radicalized people.

In November 2022, a 29-year-old police inspector was fatally injured with a stab wound to the neck in Brussels by a man who shouted “Allahu Akbar”. The suspect, Yassine M., a former detainee radicalized in prison, was indicted for “murder in a terrorist context”.

With AFP

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