Belgium authorities: 2 dead, 1 arrest in shootout during anti-terrorist raid in eastern city

Belgian security forces killed two terror suspects in a fierce shootout in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday and arrested another, foiling a major attack against police buildings, authorities said.

BRUSSELS — Belgian security forces killed two terror suspects in a fierce shootout in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday and arrested another, foiling a major attack against police buildings, authorities said.

The suspects immediately opened fire on police when they closed in on them near the city’s train station, Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt said in Brussels. He said there was no link at this stage to the Paris attacks, and that the raid is the result of an investigation that has been underway for a few weeks.

“These were extremely well-armed men,” with automatic weapons, Van der Sypt said. Police buildings were the target, and an attack had been expected in hours or days, he said.

There was an intense firefight for several minutes on an upper level of a building in Verviers where the raid took place. The building where the raid took place is multistory and appears to be residential.

“We still expect a number of arrests,” he said. No police were wounded or killed in the firefight, which occurred at the height of rush hour in a crowded neighbourhood.

The magistrate said more anti-terrorist raids were underway in the Brussels region and Verviers, adding that Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to its second-highest level. The operation was part of an investigation into extremists returning from Syria, authorities said.

Verviers is a former industrial town with a large immigrant population about 125 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of the capital, Brussels.

Witnesses speaking on Belgium’s RTBF radio described a series of explosions followed by rapid fire at the centre of Verviers, near a bakery and in the neighbourhood of the train station. Video posted online of what appeared to be the raid showed a dark view of a building amid blasts, gunshots and sirens, and a fire with smoke billowing up.

Earlier Thursday, Belgian authorities said they are looking into possible links between a man they arrested in the southern city of Charleroi for illegal trade in weapons and Amedy Coulibaly, who prosecutors say killed four people in a Paris kosher market last week.

The man arrested in Belgium “claims that he wanted to buy a car from the wife of Coulibaly,” said federal prosecutor’s spokesman, Eric Van der Sypt. “At this moment this is the only link between what happened in Paris.” Van der Sypt said that “of course, naturally” we are continuing the investigation.

At first the man came to police himself claiming there had been contact with Coulibaly’s common law wife regarding the car, but he was arrested following a search on his premises when enough indications of illegal weapons trade were found.

Van der Sypt stressed there was no established weapons link with the Paris attack at this moment.

Several countries are now involved in the hunt for possible accomplices to Coulibaly and the two other gunmen in the French attacks.

Just Posted

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Report: China is driving use of armed drones in Middle East

BEIRUT — The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven… Continue reading

Canadian home sales fall for a 3rd month; new listings also down: CREA

OTTAWA — Home sales across the country fell for a third month… Continue reading

Speaker at rally says Alberta oil ‘puts tofu on the table in Toronto!’

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — A rally in support of Alberta’s oil industry… Continue reading

Speaker at rally says Alberta oil ‘puts tofu on the table in Toronto!’

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — A rally in support of Alberta’s oil industry… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Jeff Bridges to receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at Globes

LOS ANGELES — Jeff Bridges may have once been considered as one… Continue reading

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

NEW YORK — Racial justice. Obstruction of justice. Social justice. The Justice… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Quebecers criticize western oil but buying more gasoline, SUVs, bigger homes: report

MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier is quick to reject “dirty” oil from Western… Continue reading

Most Read