Eight people were arrested in Brussels and Antwerp as part of an anti-terrorist operation on Monday evening, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office has confirmed. Those close to the investigation told RTBF that the detainees "seemed determined to carry out a terrorist attack."
The Federal Judicial Police conducted searches in municipalities in both cities on Monday, including Merksem, Borgerhout, and Deurne in Antwerp, while in Brussels police raided addresses in Schaerbeek, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and nearby Zaventem.
While no weapons or explosives were found, eight men were taken in for questioning. Five of them were from Brussels, with the other three having been arrested in Antwerp.
Among those detained, some of the individuals have been known to police for being radical Islamic extremists, two of whom were already under the police's radar as a potential risk. Initially, the arrests had been conducted separately until investigators found a link between the violent men, as well as the other six radicals.
Furthermore, sources close to the investigation told the RTBF that they all seemed prepared to "carry out a terrorist attack," with a judge now set to decide whether they will be officially placed under arrest.
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Monday evening's police operation comes less than a week after the seven-year anniversary of the Brussels terror attacks that shook the country to its core in 2016.
In the run-up to the anniversary, the Federal Judicial Police chief Eric Snoeck stated that the terror threat in Belgium had not disappeared, with Monday's arrests being the third incident related to terrorism that the country has experienced this year alone.
In March, Belgian security services had to contend with a terrorist hoax about an attempted attack on Brussels' metro lines, while the Miss Belgium competition saw a terror suspect arrested over a potential assasination plot.
This is an ongoing story which The Brussels Times will update in light of any developments.