Subscribe

Belgium police kill two in shootout during counterterror raid

The raid took place in the eastern Belgian city of Verviers. Officials say the raid foiled a potential terror attack on law enforcement.

  • close
    Belgian police inspect an apartment in central Verviers, a town between Liege and the German border, in the east of Belgium January 15, 2015. At least two people were killed when Belgian counter-terrorist police raided an apartment used by suspected Islamist radicals on Thursday, local media said, describing a coordinated, national operation related to last week's attacks in Paris. Judiciary officials confirmed only that a counter-terrorism operation took place in Verviers.
    REUTERS
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Belgian security forces killed two terror suspects in a fierce shootout in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday and arrested another, foiling a major attack against police buildings, authorities said.

The suspects immediately opened fire on police when they closed in on them near the city's train station, Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt said in Brussels. He said there was no link at this stage to the Paris attacks, and that the raid is the result of an investigation that has been underway for a few weeks.

"These were extremely well-armed men," with automatic weapons, Van der Sypt said. Police buildings were the target, and an attack had been expected in hours or days, he said.

There was an intense firefight for several minutes on an upper level of a building in Verviers where the raid took place. The building where the raid took place is multistory and appears to be residential.

"We still expect a number of arrests," he said. No police were wounded or killed in the firefight, which occurred at the height of rush hour in a crowded neighborhood.

The magistrate said more anti-terrorist raids were underway in the Brussels region and Verviers, adding that Belgium's terror alert level was raised to its second-highest level. The operation was part of an investigation into extremists returning from Syria, authorities said.

Verviers is a former industrial town with a large immigrant population 80 miles southeast of the capital, Brussels.

Witnesses speaking on Belgium's RTBF radio described a series of explosions followed by rapid fire at the center of Verviers, near a bakery and in the neighborhood of the train station. Video posted online of what appeared to be the raid showed a dark view of a building amid blasts, gunshots and sirens, and a fire with smoke billowing up.

Earlier Thursday, Belgian authorities said they are looking into possible links between a man they arrested in the southern city of Charleroi for illegal trade in weapons and Amedy Coulibaly, who prosecutors say killed four people in a Paris kosher market last week.

The man arrested in Belgium "claims that he wanted to buy a car from the wife of Coulibaly," said federal prosecutor's spokesman, Eric Van der Sypt. "At this moment this is the only link between what happened in Paris." Van der Sypt said that "of course, naturally" we are continuing the investigation.

At first the man came to police himself claiming there had been contact with Coulibaly's common law wife regarding the car, but he was arrested following a search on his premises when enough indications of illegal weapons trade were found.

Van der Sypt stressed there was no established weapons link with the Paris attack at this moment.

Several countries are now involved in the hunt for possible accomplices to Coulibaly and the two other gunmen in the French attacks.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK