Eight people were arrested Monday night in Belgium as part of two investigations on suspicion of "terrorist attack," the federal prosecutor's office announced Tuesday.

According to a judicial source contacted by AFP, the detainees are "radicalized youths" of the jihadist movement. Potential targets have not yet been determined, although there was talk of a planned attack in each of the two investigations, which have links to each other, prosecutors said.

Five searches were carried out in Molenbeek (Brussels region), Eupen (east) and, in the Dutch-speaking Belgian part (north) in the three Antwerp districts of Merksem, Borgerhout and Deurne, as part of the first case, investigated in Antwerp.

The investigation resulted in five arrests, and at least two of these five detainees are suspected of having "prepared to commit a terrorist attack in Belgium". In the second case, investigated in Brussels, three suspects were arrested in Molenbeek, Schaerbeek (another Brussels municipality) and in Zaventem, very close to the capital.

These people are also suspected of having prepared an attack on Belgian soil." There are links between the two files, but a deeper investigation should reveal to what extent the two cases were intertwined, "says the federal prosecutor's office.

Belgium was the target of several attacks claimed by the Islamic State group seven years ago, leading to 10 men — including one absent and presumed dead in Syria — currently on trial.

These attacks left 32 dead and more than 340 injured on 22 March 2016.That morning, shortly before 8 am, there was a double suicide attack in the departure hall of Brussels-Zaventem airport. It was followed, an hour later in the metro of the European capital, a third also perpetrated by a suicide bomber transporting explosives.

Over seven years, there have also been several deadly attacks on members of the forces of law enforcement led by radicalized individuals. In November 2022, a 29-year-old police inspector was fatally stabbed in the neck in Brussels by a man shouting "Allah Akbar." The suspect, Yassine M., a former prisoner radicalized, was charged with "murder in a terrorist context."

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