Twelve arrests as Belgium swoops on terror suspects

A police officer in Brussels, 17 JuneImage copyright

Image caption

Police staged a reconstruction of the March attacks in Brussels just this week

Police in Belgium have made 12 arrests in a huge anti-terror operation, nearly three months after the deadly bomb attacks on Brussels.

Those detained overnight are suspected of plotting a terrorist attack, prosecutors say. They were among 40 taken in for questioning.

Searches were conducted in 16 municipalities, mainly around Brussels, with checks on 152 lock-up garages.

On 22 March, bombs killed 32 people at a Brussels airport and a metro station.

No arms or explosives were found during the searches, which passed off without incident, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.

Among the areas where searches took place was Molenbeek, a Brussels district which has become notorious because of its associations with jihadists.

The federal prosecutor said the operation had been launched after investigations which “necessitated an immediate intervention”.

However, the Belgian government has not raised the threat level.

Belgian police are said to have recently received a warning that a group of militants from the so-called Islamic State group had left Syria en route for Europe, planning new attacks in Belgium and France.

An unnamed security source was quoted by Belgian newspaper DH on Wednesday as saying the group had “left Syria about a week-and-a-half ago aiming to reach Europe via Turkey and Greece by boat without passports”.

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