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Four Dutch nationals arrested after threat to Belgian justice minister

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Belgium's Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne arrives for a meeting on security between Belgium and France at Egmont Palace in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.
Belgium's Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne arrives for a meeting on security between Belgium and France at Egmont Palace in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo   -  

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has been placed under increased police protection after a suspected plot to kidnap him was uncovered.

Four suspects were arrested in the Netherlands following a "threat" against the official, the federal prosecutor's office announced on Saturday.

According to media reports, an assault rifle and bottles filled with petrol were discovered inside a vehicle registered in the Netherlands, which was spotted near the minister's home.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office said in a press release that three people had been arrested overnight from Friday to Saturday in the Netherlands. 

The men are all Dutch nationals, aged 20, 29 and 48, according to officials. A fourth suspect was also detained over the weekend.

They are believed to be members of a “drugs mafia" and will soon be extradited to Belgium.

“My family and I are safe. Our fight against organised crime continues. With more manpower and resources than ever. We will never bow to violence,” Van Quickenborne wrote on Twitter.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office confirmed that it had been "informed during the last week of a possible threat" to the Minister of Justice. 

An investigation led by a judge "quickly indicated that this threat should be taken seriously."

The minister has been placed under tighter police surveillance, and will not take part in events during the next few days as a security precaution.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the threat against Van Quickenborne is “purely unacceptable.”

“Let me be clear: we will not be intimidated by anyone,” De Croo wrote on Twitter.