Government agents killed at least two suspects in what they say was a developing “Belgian Charlie Hebdo” situation late Thursday.
The suspects opened fire as police began their raid on an apartment above a bakery in the eastern city of Verviers, 70 miles from Brussels. No security personnel were injured.
The public prosecutor’s office has confirmed the deaths of the two suspects, and added there have been arrests of “several” more.
“We’ve averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo,” an unidentified police officer told La Meuse, according to Fox News.
Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told journalists at a briefing in Brussels that the terrorists were linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and were close to launching a major attack.
Counter terror raids are underway in the Brussels region at this time, as well as in Verviers, he said, and the terror alert level in the country has been raised to its second highest level.
The raids were part of the security establishment’s investigation into local jihadists who are returning to the country “battle-hardened” from Syria.
Another suspect is currently being detained in a separate part of the country on suspicion of selling arms that were used in last week’s terrorist siege in Paris.
Belgian media reported that suspect had turned himself in Tuesday in the southern city of Charleroi, saying he had been in contact with Amedy Coulibaly, one of the gunmen involved in last week’s Paris terror attacks.
It is not yet known whether the two are connected, nor whether those who were killed Thursday were directly tied to the Paris terror cells.