Connect with us

World

Belgian police kill two in raid, foil imminent Islamist attacks

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Belgian police kill two in raid, foil imminent Islamist attacks
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Belgian police killed two men who opened fire on them during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that federal prosecutors said was about to launch “terrorist attacks on a grand scale”.

Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, the incident fuelled fears across Europe of young Muslims returning radicalized from Syria. But the Belgian probe had been under way before the Jan. 7 attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and officials saw no obvious link between the two.

A third man was detained in the eastern city of Verviers, where police commandos ran into a hail of gunfire after trying to gain entry to an apartment above a town center bakery. All three were citizens of Belgium, which has one of the biggest concentrations of European Islamists fighting in Syria.

Other raids on the homes of men returned from the civil war there were conducted across the country, notably in several districts of the capital Brussels, prosecutors said. They added that the men were suspected of planning attacks on Belgian police stations. Security had been tightened at such sites.

“The searches were carried out as part of an investigation into an operational cell, some of whose members had returned from Syria,” said prosecutors’ spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt. “For the time being, there is no connection with the attacks in Paris.”

Earlier in the day, in an apparently unrelated development, police detained a man in southern Belgium whom they suspected of supplying weaponry to Amedy Coulibaly, killer of four people at a Paris Jewish grocery after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Belgian media quoted a national lawmaker as saying phone taps had prompted the operation. There has been concern in Europe that the French attacks, carried out by known radicals not seen as priority threats by security forces, might cause other groups to capitalize on public anxiety by accelerating plans to act.

Describing events in provincial Verviers after dark, Van Der Sypt said: “The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralized.”

ISLAMIST STRENGTH

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel followed the operation and raised the national alert level to three from two on a four-point scale. “We are not aware of any specific or concrete threats, however, in the situation we can consider it is useful to raise the level of prudence and vigilance,” he told Reuters.

With half a million Muslims, mostly of French-speaking North African descent, among its 11 million people, Belgium has seen similar discontent to that in France among young, unemployed children of immigrants in blighted, post-industrial towns like Verviers, once a major center for wool and other textile mills.

A young Frenchman of Algerian origin is facing trial in Belgium, accused of shooting dead four people at the Jewish Museum in the capital Brussels last May.

Per head of population, more Belgians have taken part in the fighting in Syria than any other European state. The Belgian government believes about 100 of its nationals have come back with combat experience. A further 40 may have been killed and about 170 are still in the ranks of fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Public television RTBF showed video from Verviers of a building at night lit up by flames, with the sound of shots being fired. Late into the evening, police commandos were controlling some streets and checking other sites. Crime scene investigators were at work.

Emrick Bertholet was outside a pharmacy shortly before 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) when police vehicles roared up and armed commandos leapt out: “They shouted ‘Let’s go’, they ran off and everything happened really quickly,” he told Reuters.

“I heard the sound of grenades, bursts of gunfire … I’m a bit shocked, a bit afraid, surprised it could happen here.”

Belgium has taken a lead in EU efforts to counter the threat perceived from the return of “foreign fighters” from Syria. It is also part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State. Six Belgian F-16s have taken part in bombing Syria and Iraq.

A court in Antwerp is due to deliver its verdict on 46 people accused of recruiting young men to join jihadists or of becoming jihadists in Syria, Belgium’s largest Islamist militant trial to date. The court was to have given its verdict this week, but it was delayed for a month after the Paris violence.

In Germany, police arrested a suspected supporter of Islamic State who had recently been in Syria, prosecutors said on Thursday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Disease control amendment in the works; reopening delays | September 22

South11 hours ago

5 billion baht loss as birds’ nest producing swiftlets found dead

Crime12 hours ago

Ex-cop “Joe Ferrari,” other officers charged with violating discipline policy over suspect’s death

Sponsored12 hours ago

HOMA is now offering fully-serviced, affordable lifestyle apartments in Phuket Town.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand12 hours ago

5 Pattani men arrested for allegedly posing as police officers to extort locals

World12 hours ago

Thai woman tricked into human trafficking in Dubai brought home safely

Phuket13 hours ago

Alleged cable thief busted in Phuket, accomplice possibly still at large

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand13 hours ago

Thaiger Bites | Your Feedback and Comments! | Ep. 23

Guides14 hours ago

Bangkok’s best fresh markets to visit

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 11,252 new cases; provincial totals

World14 hours ago

Tesla stock dive costs Elon Musk $7 billion, World’s Richest Man title

Kanchanaburi14 hours ago

Kanchanaburi temple that served as a rehab closes amidst shocking abuse allegations

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Post-Covid condition MIS-C afflicted 30 to 40 children, 1 death

Thailand15 hours ago

Morning Top Stories | New disease control law, Thai border patrol tightens security | September 22 |

Thailand16 hours ago

Manhunt underway for foreigner who allegedly prepared bread using his feet

Phuket16 hours ago

Burmese man arrested for rape and assault of Thai woman

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending