Belgian police arrested six people in their probe of Tuesday’s Islamic State suicide bombings in Brussels, while authorities in France said they thwarted a militant plot there “that was at an advanced stage.”
The federal prosecutor’s office in Belgium said on Thursday that the arrests came during police searches in the Brussels neighbourhoods of Schaerbeek in the north and Jette in the west, as well as in the centre of the Belgian capital.
The arrests came days after suicide bombers hit the Brussels airport and a metro train, killing at least 31 people and wounding some 270 in the worst such attack in Belgian history.
The attack in Brussels, which is home to the European Union and NATO, has heightened security concerns around the world and raised questions about European countries’ response to the threat from Islamist extremists.
The Islamic State militant group, which claimed responsibility for the Brussels bombings, also took credit for coordinated attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people at cafes, a sports stadium and concert hall.
In Paris on Thursday, authorities arrested a French national suspected of belonging to a militant network planning an attack in France.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a televised address that the arrest helped “foil a plot in France that was at an advanced stage.”
Cazeneuve added that the man arrested “is suspected of high-level involvement in this plan. He was part of a terrorist network that planned to strike France.”
After the arrest by the French counter terrorism service, DGSI, the agency raided an apartment building on Thursday night in the northern Paris suburb of Argenteuil. French TV station ITele reported that explosives had been found in the man’s house.
“At this stage, there is no tangible evidence that links this plot to the attacks in Paris and Brussels,” added Cazeneuve, who was in the Belgian capital earlier on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, Belgium’s interior and justice ministers offered to resign over a failure to track an Islamic State militant expelled by Turkey as a suspected fighter and who blew himself up at Brussels Airport. (Courtesy Reuters)