BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian authorities have raided dozens of homes and arrested 12 suspects in a major anti-terror investigation which they said required “immediate intervention,” fearing an attack could have been close.
The federal prosecutor’s office said Saturday that homes and car ports were searched in 16 municipalities, mostly in and around Brussels. The statement said there were no major incidents during the raids and that no arms or explosives were found.
It said 40 people were taken for interrogation, of which 12 were arrested, and a judge will rule on their continued detention later Saturday.
Across Belgium parties were being planned to watch live broadcasts of the country’s soccer team playing Ireland at the European Championships in neighboring France and some media said such events could have been the targets.
The federal prosecutor’s office or ministers refused to elaborate on that possibility.
“I’m very happy our services are trying to anticipate things as much as possible,” said Justice Minister Koen Geens.
The operation came as Belgium remains under the second highest terror alert in wake of the March 22 attacks on the Brussels subway and airport which left 32 people dead.
“It is not over. We remain under terror alert 3, it means that something is still up,” Interior Minister Jan Jambon told the VRT network. “Last night, we had a very successful action.”
The prosecutor’s statement said that “the results of the investigation necessitated an immediate intervention,” indicating a violent attack was likely planned in the near future.
The federal prosecutor’s office did not link the raids to the March 22 attacks, even though an eighth suspect was arrested as part of the investigation of those attacks late Friday. The Belgian man, identified as Youssef E.A., was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to terrorist murders.”
At the same time, four top ministers, including Prime Minister Charles Michel, Geens and Jambon, received special protection following unspecified threats. “We learned about that late yesterday that this close protection would happen. They say there are good reasons for that,” Geens said.
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