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Two reported dead in Belgian counter-terrorism raid

Two reported dead in Belgian counter-terrorism raid

toBRUSSELS: Two people were killed during a raid on suspected radicals in the Belgian town of Verviers on Thursday, local media said, raising concerns about security in Europe a week after terrorists killed 17 people in Paris.

Judiciary officials confirmed only that a counter-terrorism operation took place near the centre of the town, in the east of the country between the city of Liege and the German border. They plan a news briefing at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT).

Public radio RTBF said there were no casualties among the security forces involved. Two unidentified people were killed and a third seriously wounded. Several others were detained.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors said they had detained a man in Belgium whom they suspected of supplying weaponry to Amedy Coulibaly, killer of four people at a Paris Jewish grocery.

RTBF said Thursday’s operation in Verviers was an operation intended to check on suspected radicals — one of several being conducted across the country against people believed to have returned to Belgium after taking part in the Syrian civil war.
Belgium has seen significant radical Islamist activity among its Muslim population. RTBF said police raids were also under way in Brussels. Belga news agency said police were hunting a man who witnesses said had brandished a weapon and shouted religious slogans in Arabic at a Brussels metro station.

Local media said gunshots and several explosions were heard on a residential street in Verviers near the railway station and one photo posted by a witness on Twitter showed police vehicles and ambulances blocking the street. Police had raided an apartment above the Croissant d’Or bakery, RTBF said.

In a report that could not be immediately confirmed, the Web site of La Meuse newspaper quoted an unidentified police officer saying: “We’ve averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo.”

Two French brothers, who like Coulibaly claimed allegiance to Islamist militants in the Middle East, killed 12 people last Wednesday, Jan. 7, at the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Per head of population, Belgium is the European country from where the highest number of citizens have taken part in fighting for the Syrian rebels in the past four years, data compiled by security researchers have shown. –

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