(BRUSSELS2) An attack was narrowly foiled in Belgium, the federal prosecutor's office in Brussels has just confirmed this Thursday evening (January 15, 20:20 p.m.). The searches of the federal police took place in three districts in Verviers (eastern Belgium), Brussels and Hal-Vilvoorde "as part of an open folder" against an operational cell made up of people, some of whom were returning from Syria ". " The investigation made it possible to realize that this group was about to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks in Belgium, in an imminent manner..
Two suspects killed in Verviers, another apprehended
“During an intervention in Verviers, the suspects opened fire for several minutes with automatic weapons and handguns against the federal police. They were neutralized immediately. 2 (suspects) died and a third was intercepted on the spot. No witnesses and police were injured. »
An operation carried out by the special units of the federal police, in connection with the State Security, in the center - the rue de la Colline is located in the district of the station - of the small town in the east of the Belgium (not far from the German border). The magistrate did not want to confirm a third death among the suspects as mentioned in some media.
“The Coordination Body for Threat Analysis (OCAM) (in Belgium) decided to raise to level 3 - on a scale which counts 4 levels - the threat for the police services. The threat remains at level 2 with increased vigilance for certain places. »
The investigation is currently continuing. Several searches took place in municipalities in the Brussels region, in particular Molenbeek, Anderlecht (where explosives were allegedly found)
and Schaerbeek, as well as in Vilvoorde. And the prosecution will make a new update on Friday (morning).
No proven link yet
The Belgian federal prosecutor's office, however, did not want to confirm or deny any link, as it stands, with the Paris attack as with other cases that had plagued Belgium in the past. It seems that the investigation was already underway before the attacks in Paris. But, unquestionably, it was accelerated. B2 was able to see it, with identity checks, in the European district last Wednesday, of a vehicle registered in France. Belgium is seen as a possible point of arms supply, or even greater support, for the Coulibaly-Kouachy network. Read : Belgium point of support for the Kouachi-Coulibaly network?
(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, at the Federal Prosecutor's Office)
First lesson (hot)
The operation carried out by the federal police on Thursday in several cities in Belgium shows that the Belgian police, to be quite discreet in their presence on the public highway, are no less ineffective. The same cannot be said of the European institutions which have, for the moment, shown a certain casualness in the way they consider both the threat and the measures to be taken. Read also: Anti-terrorism. A European ignition delay
(Updated - with details of searches in Brussels and region + first hot lesson)