Monday

19th Nov 2018

Anti-terror raid leaves two dead in Belgium

  • Belgian police were deployed to prevent 'imminent' terrorist attacks (Photo: Ray Forster)

Jewish schools stayed closed in Belgium on Friday and the country elevated its terror alert after two suspects were killed and one injured on Thursday afternoon (15 January) in an anti-terror raid by Belgian police.

The shoot-out took place around 5pm local time in a former bakery in the south-eastern town of Verviers in the French-speaking region of Wallonia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

According to the state prosecutor's office, police stormed the suspects' hideout only to be met by bullets fired from small and assault weapons.

At the same time, police were deployed in several parts of the Belgian capital, Brussels, and in the area around the main airport, Zaventem.

Belgian police acted to prevent "imminent, large-scale attacks," two officials from the Belgian state prosecutor office said in a press conference on Thursday night.

Several searches were carried out at the homes of suspects planning the attacks. Some of the suspects had recently returned from Syria, the Belgian officials said.

Prosecutor spokesperson Eric Van der Sypt noted that those targeted in the raid had been under surveillance since coming back from the Middle East and were close to carrying out an attack.

Meanwhile, witnesses on the Brussels metro spoke of an armed man who got off the train at the Ribaucourt metro stop shouting "Allahu akbar" before being arrested. It later emerged that the man was drunk and had mental issues, RTL reported Friday.

The Belgian police action is part of a broader international anti-terrorist action which includes some seven countries, the RTL broadcaster reported.

The shoot-out, house searches, and arrests come at just one week after the massacre in Paris, where 17 people were killed in separate attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, and a kosher store.

The attacks were later claimed by Al Qaeda in Yemen, while one of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, shot dead by police, had bought his weapons in Belgium.

A man accused of having sold Coulibaly the assault weapons was seized by Belgian police Thursday.

The Belgian authortities subsequently raised the terrorist alert from two to three (out of four).

Policemen in Antwerp were also allowed to carry their duty weapons home, Le Soir reports.

Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp were advised to stay closed on Friday.

“We have been informed that we are a possible target and therefore we will not take any risk”, said Isi Morsel, head of a Jewish school in Antwerp according to Jewish news website Joods Actueel.

Belgian authorities on Thursday could not confirm if there is a link between the Verviers suspects and the Paris attackers.

The Belgian government was due to hold an emergency meeting Friday morning, while the state prosecutor's office planned to hold another press conference at 11am.

This story was updated at 8am on Friday 16 January

Opinion

Perspectives against extremism

We need to try and understand why the Paris and Verviers attacks were committed by young adults born and raised in the heart of Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland extradites Polish man despite rule of law concerns
  2. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework
  3. Austrian foreign minister: EU's Israel policy 'too strict'
  4. Soros and Kurz discuss Central European University move
  5. EU set to tighten rules on foreign strategic investment
  6. Macron repeats call for unified Europe in Bundestag speech
  7. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  8. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  2. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  3. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  4. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine
  5. EU must recognise new force for Balkans destabilisation
  6. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  7. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  8. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us