Belgian State Security and the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM) have long been convinced that right-wing extremism is on the rise in Belgium, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said on Wednesday.
This is illustrated by the fact that there are more than 60 right-wing extremists on the terrorist list, which means they are considered potentially violent extremists, Minister Van Quickenborne said on the 'Terzake' programme on Canvas (VRT).
"These people were monitored for months in all discretion," he said. "It's not a fluke."
Police searches were conducted in several places on Wednesday, including in Merksem, where one person was killed in the operation. “According to the information I have, the police were fired on twice. That is why shots were fired in response,” the minister said.
The P(olice) Committee is also investigating the incident. “This is normal procedure, in the interest of all, and in particular the police officers in question,” Van Quickenborne said.
According to the federal prosecutor's office, more than 100 weapons were found in Merksem, in addition to a huge amount of ammunition, as well as tactical vests, night vision goggles and thermal vision goggles.
"In principle, a person who is on the list of terrorists cannot have a license to carry a weapon. It is possible to derogate from this principle within the framework of the investigation so as not to alarm the suspect and therefore not to cause the investigation to fail," Van Quickenborne explained.