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2 Dead and Explosions Heard in Belgian Counter-Terrorism Raid - They Write What They're Told, We Don't!

2 Dead and Explosions Heard in Belgian Counter-Terrorism Raid

By Cain Cawthon

At least two people have been killed after Belgian police launched a major operation against a suspected jihadist terrorist cell a week after the attacks on Paris which left 20 people dead.

Belgian media has reported that two people have died in the eastern town of Verviers

The raid in Verviers in eastern Belgium was targeted against a group of three young men who had recently returned from Syria, according to the Belgian authorities.

Two people were killed and one other was arrested in a shoot-out before 6pm (5pm GMT) during an anti-terrorist raid in Belgium, authorities said. Belgian media reported another was seriously injured. It was not immediately clear if they were suspects.

Witnesses to the operation described a barrage of explosions and multiple gunshots as police entered a building close to the town’s railway station shortly before 6pm (5pm GMT). Sharpshooters were posted on rooftops surrounding the building.

There were also several arrests as part of the operation, which the authorities said had taken place at several locations across Belgium including the Brussels area.

Prosecutors said that the alleged terror cell was suspected of planning attacks on police stations, where security measures were increased yesterday.

The federal prosecutor, Eric Van Der Sypt, told reporters that Belgian police and special forces launched the operation on Thursday evening after receiving information that a cell was poised to launch a serious terror strike in the country. The raids were focused on individuals in the Brussels region and Verviers who were believed to have returned home after fighting in Syria.

“A specialized investigating judge in Brussels specialised in terrorism commanded about 10 search warrants,” Mr Van Der Sypt said. “These search warrants were executed in an investigation concerning several people who we think are an operational cell – certain people who came back from Syria. During the investigation we found this group was about to commit terrorist attacks in Belgium.”

As soon as police launched the raid on the property in Verviers, “certain suspects immediately opened fire with automatic weapons at special forces of the police.” Mr Van Der Sypt said the gunfire went on “for several minutes” before two suspects were shot dead. He said that no police or passers-by were injured in the confrontation at a property in central Verviers near the train station.

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While the authorities would give no further information about the investigation or reveal the identities of the suspects, they said they would be raising the national security alert level.

PureVPNAuthorities in Brussels were already on high alert after Mehdi Nemmouche – a Frenchman who had been to Syria – shot dead four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels last May.

It was not known if the operation was linked to ongoing efforts by French police to track down potential accomplices to last week’s attacks in Paris on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher grocery store, which claimed the lives of three terrorists and their 17 victims.

Prior to events in Verviers, the Belgian authorities had announced the arrest of a man in Charleroi, close to the French border, on suspicion of supplying ammunition to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman responsible for shooting dead four Jews in the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris on Friday.

The man voluntarily surrendered himself to police, claiming he had conned Coulibaly in a deal to buy a car but denying any involvement in arms sales.

Belgium was targeted by jihadists last year when a gunman shot dead four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May last year. Mehdi Memmouche, 29, a Frenchman who had previously acted as a jailer to Western hostages for Isis in Syria, is awaiting trial for the murders.

The events in France’s northern neighbour took place as President Francois Hollande vowed to protect Muslims in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders and Pope Francis intervened in the debate about the Paris attacks by saying there were limits to freedom of expression.

During a visit to Washington, British Prime Minister David Cameron gave his response to the events in Belgian.

“It’s still early days in terms of getting information but it looks like yet another indication of the huge risk that we face from Islamist extremist terror in Europe after the attacks in Paris, after events here in America now we see this.”

He added: “We have to remain extremely vigilant we have to take all the steps we can to beat this evil. I’ll be discussing this issue with Barack Obama this evening.”

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