Europe 1 with AFP 12:04 pm, March 28, 2023

Eight radicalized young people of the jihadist movement were arrested on Monday, March 27, in Belgium, they were suspected of preparing two attacks, according to the federal prosecutor's office. Potential targets have not been determined at this stage. There was talk of a planned attack in each of the two files, which have links between them.

Eight people were arrested Monday night in Belgium as part of two investigations on suspicion of a "terrorist attack", the federal prosecutor's office said Tuesday. According to a judicial source contacted by AFP, the arrested are "very young radicalized" of the jihadist movement. Potential targets have not been determined at this stage. There was talk of a planned attack in each of the two cases, which have links between them, said the prosecutor.

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Three suspects arrested in Molenbeek

Five searches were carried out in Molenbeek (Brussels region), Eupen (east) and Dutch-speaking Belgium (north) in the three Antwerp districts of Merksem, Borgerhout and Deurne, in the context of the first case, investigated in Antwerp. They resulted in five arrests, and at least two of these five suspects 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 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 cases, but further investigation will have to reveal to what extent the two cases were intertwined," the federal prosecutor's office said. Belgium was the target of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group seven years ago, which is worth ten men, including an absentee, presumed dead in Syria, to be tried by an assize court. These attacks killed 32 people and injured more than 340 on 22 March 2016.

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Several fatal attacks over the past seven years

That morning, a double suicide attack took place shortly before 08:00 in the departure hall of Brussels-Zaventem airport. It was followed, an hour later in the metro in the European capital, by a third also perpetrated by a suicide bomber carrying explosives. Over the past seven years, there have also been several deadly attacks on members of the forces targeted by radicalized.

In November 2022, a 29-year-old police inspector was fatally wounded by a stab wound to the neck in Brussels by a man who shouted "Allah Akbar". The suspect, Yassine M., a former inmate radicalized in prison, was charged with "murder in a terrorist context".