Security forces in Belgium conducted an operation against suspected terrorists on Thursday. At least two people were killed Thursday in an anti-terrorism operation in the eastern Belgian city of Verviers, according to a local CNN affiliate. Belgian law enforcement sources say there were no casualties among security forces.
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said a government official told him the terrorist cell is believed to have links to ISIS and to have been planning attacks in Belgium.
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Public service radio RTBF said the operation was intended to check on suspected Islamic radicals, and was just one of several ongoing investigations related to people who have returned to Belgium after participating in the Syrian civil war.
Details on the Belgium anti-terror operation
Local media reported gunshots and several explosions were heard on a usually quiet residential street in Verviers near the railway station. A photo posted on Twitter showed police vehicles and ambulances blocking the street.
The unnamed official told Cruikshank that the raid was against a group that had traveled to Syria for the civil war, and had been given instructions by ISIS to carry out attacks in Belgium and throughout Europe. Supposedly, the attacks were in retaliation for U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS in the Middle East.
According to the government official, the group had been under surveillance by Belgian authorities for some time, and Belgian security forces decided on Thursday it was time to go ahead and carry out the raid.
In an unconfirmed report, the Belgian La Meuse newspaper quoted an unidentified police officer on the scene as saying: “We’ve averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo.”