Several suspects have been brought up on charges of terrorist activity. Many more have been arrested as part of a cell plotting to attack police officers.
Belgian police arrested more than a dozen suspected terrorists on Friday, charging five with "participating in the activities of a terrorist group" according to federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt. Van der Sypt told reporters that the suspects had been within hours of "carrying out terrorist attacks to kill police officers on public roads and in police stations."
The magistrate said he was fairly confident the authorities had dismantled the core of a dangerous terrorist cell, but that there was reason to believe other suspects may still be at large.
"I cannot confirm that we arrested everyone in the group," Van der Sypt said. He added that some of the group had recently returned to Europe from Syria, renewing fears about young Europeans going abroad and becoming radicalized.
Two other Belgians were arrested in France after allegedly fleeing the raids which left two suspected jihadists dead and a third injured on Thursday, possibly en route to Italy, police sources said. Belgium has requested their extradition.
‘The plan to attack our values'
Officers found Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition, explosives, and police uniforms during the anti-terrorism raids in which the 13 were arrested according to news agency AFP.
The raids follow one week after the terror attack that left 17 dead in Paris, although Belgian police said there was no apparent link between the plot in their country and the one in France. French PM Manuel Valls, however, said "the link that exists is the plan to attack our values."
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said he was ready to call up the army to ensure security as he raised the country's terror alert to three on a scale of four.
es/bw (AP, AFP)