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Belgium: three arrested in major operations across Brussels

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By Sarah Taylor  with Reuters, AFP
Belgium: three arrested in major operations across Brussels

<p>Three people have been arrested in major police operations in Brussels.</p> <p>The Belgian prosecutor’s office confirmed three people had been detained in total in Brussels following Friday’s (March 25) operation, all of whom are related to the <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2016/03/25/paris-anti-terror-raid-foils-imminent-french-attack/">thwarted French attack plot</a>, made public by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Thursday (March 24).</p> <p>One of the detainees was apprehended in the Schaerbeek area of northern Brussels. He could be seen with a small child, who was later led away by security forces.</p> <p>Two of those arrested have been named as Tawfik A., and Salah A. The man detained following the Schaerbeek operation, has not yet been named.</p> <p>Tawfik A., and the man arrested in Schaerbeek were wounded in the leg, according to the statement.</p> <h3>Interpol support</h3> <p>Interpol has announced it is providing Belgium with <a href="http://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News/2016/N2016-035">operational and analytical support</a> in the wake of the Brussels attacks.</p> <p>“To further build on the international information exchange it is currently facilitating in the aftermath of the attacks, <span class="caps">INTERPOL</span> will consolidate law enforcement efforts worldwide to locate and arrest individuals linked to Foreign Terrorist Fighter (<span class="caps">FTF</span>) networks through its operation Infra (International Fugitives Round-up and Arrest) model,” it announced in an online statement.</p> <h3>Schaerbeek</h3> <p>Heavily armed police and military and bomb disposal experts were on the scene in Schaerbeek. Road blockades were also put in place. </p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"><p lang="fr" dir="ltr">EN IMAGES. Bruxelles : opération antiterroriste à Schaerbeek <a href="https://t.co/8sTnoRYywL">https://t.co/8sTnoRYywL</a> <a href="https://t.co/hA2IZuwiRA">pic.twitter.com/hA2IZuwiRA</a></p>— Le Parisien (@le_Parisien) <a href="https://twitter.com/le_Parisien/status/713397317353791488">March 25, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Local Mayor Bernard Clerfayt is reported to have said three controlled explosions were carried out. Belga news agency claims one blast occurred during a police search of a house in the borough.</p> <p>The operation comes three days after attacks on Brussels airport and a metro train, in which at least 31 people were killed and more than 270 injured. The <span class="caps">ISIL</span> militant group claimed responsibility for what is the worst such attack in Belgian history.</p> <p>French President François Hollande says the Islamist militant network behind the Brussels bombings and November’s Paris attacks is being destroyed. However, other threats remain, he said ahead of a meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres.</p> <p>“We know that there are other networks. Even if the one behind the attacks in Paris and Brussels is in the process of being wiped out, a threat continues to remain,” Hollande said.</p> <p>The suspected airport bombers’ last known location was an address in Schaerbeek. They are reported to have left that address in a taxi which took them to Zaventem airport on Tuesday (March 22).</p> <p>In a statement on Friday (March 25), Belgian investigators confirmed the <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2016/03/21/najim-laachraoui-identified-as-accomplice-of-paris-attackers/">second airport suicide bomber</a> was <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2016/03/25/brother-of-brussels-terror-suspect-laachraoui-speaks-out-on-links-to-paris/">Najim Laachraoui</a>. The information, they said, was based on <span class="caps">DNA</span> tests.</p> <h3>European operations</h3> <p>The raid in Schaerbeek is one of a number of operations said to have taken place across Europe in connection with the Brussels bombings. Earlier today, we heard <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2016/03/25/six-arrested-in-belgium-await-possible-charges/">Belgian police had arrested six people</a>, while German police are reported to have arrested two people.</p> <p>Belgian prosecutors said three of the six detained had since been released. Fayal C., Abou A., and a third, unnamed person were still being held on Friday afternoon (March 25).</p> <p>In France, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced on Thursday that a French national had been detained. He has since been named as Reda Kriket. The arrest, Cazeneuve said, “helped foil a plot in France that was at an advanced stage.”</p> <p>He continued: “The individual questioned is suspected of high-level involvement in this plan. He was part of a terrorist network that planned to strike France.”</p> <p>The French counter-terrorism service — the <span class="caps">DGSI</span> — made the arrest. It later carried out a raid on an apartment building in the Argenteuil suburb of northern Paris.</p>