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Terror cell arrests over plot to kill Belgium police

January 16, 2015

Belgium authorities say they have detained 13 people during overnight raids which smashed a terrorism cell. Prosecutors allege the cell was close to carrying out a plot to kill on-duty police officers.

Belgien Anti-Terror-Einsatz 15.01.2015
Image: Reuters

Federal Prosecutor Eric van der Sypt told a Brussels press conference on Friday that overnight raids across the city had led to the discovery of four military-style weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles, explosives, ammunition and communications equipment – along with police uniforms which prosecutors suspect may have been used for the plot.

The "intention was to kill policemen in the street and at police stations," he said.

The identification of the two dead suspects is still underway, Sypt added.

Belgium prosecutors will seek extradition orders for two Belgian suspects currently detained in France Sypt said, although they believe there is no link between last week's Paris attacks, arrests made in Germany overnight and the events in Brussels.

"I can confirm that we started this investigation before the attacks in Paris," Van der Sypt said.

The "important arrests" meant "not only a terror cell but also their support network" have been pulled apart, he concluded.

Parliament to seek tougher anti-terror policies

Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reported Friday the country's politicians would debate the need for tightened security policies, such as broader telecommunications surveillance of suspects, prevention of radicalization in domestic prisons and more stringent monitoring of online social networking websites.

The anti-terror policy debate comes one day after Belgium police staged raids against terror suspects in which two people were killed during a shootout with police. A third person was arrested and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. All three people had recently returned from Syria.

Thursday's incident took place in the rural town of Verviers, near Liege, and the border with Germany .

Prime Minister Charles Michel increased the country's terror alert level to its second highest level just hours before the raids.

jlw/(dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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