Belgian Police Conduct Major Anti-Terrorism Sweep

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BELGIUM-POLITICS-SECURITY-TERRORISM
Belgian soldiers walk the streets in Brussels, following the raids.Photo: NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/This content is subject to copyright.

Belgian police detained 40 people, arresting 12, after dozens of overnight anti-terrorism raids were conducted across 16 municipalities in the country on Friday, according to Reuters. The AFP reports that three suspects were ultimately charged with participating in a terrorist organization, and the other nine were questioned and released. As the New York Times points out, though the raids did not turn up guns or explosives, Belgian prosecutors indicated that the major sweep was the result of information investigators had uncovered that “demanded immediate intervention,” though its not yet clear if an attack was imminent. It’s also possible that the raids were, in part, an attempt by Belgian authorities to address doubts that they would not be able to prevent another attack like the one that killed 32 people in Brussels three months ago. 

On the other hand, while it seems the sweep was not targeting the same ISIS-linked network that perpetrated the Paris and Brussels attacks, Belgian media has reported that a new network was being investigated, one that may have been planning an attack on Belgian soccer fans in Brussels watching this weekend’s Euro 2016 soccer matches, which are being played in neighboring France. That tournament had already led to heightened security in Europe, and on Wednesday, Belgian police received an anti-terrorism warning indicating that a group of ISIS fighters were en route to Europe to conduct new attacks in Belgium and France.

This post has been updated to correct the total number killed in the March Brussels attack.