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Belgian authorities arrest 12 in major anti-terror raid

Homes and car ports searched in 16 municipalities, mostly in and around Brussels; 40 people taken in for interrogation

Illustrative photo of a Belgian police officers standing guard in a street in Etterbeek, Brussels, on April 9, 2016, as part of the investigation into the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks in which 130 died; and the March 22, 2016, attacks in Brussels, which left 32 dead. (AFP/Thierry Charlier)
Illustrative photo of a Belgian police officers standing guard in a street in Etterbeek, Brussels, on April 9, 2016, as part of the investigation into the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks in which 130 died; and the March 22, 2016, attacks in Brussels, which left 32 dead. (AFP/Thierry Charlier)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian authorities have raided dozens of homes and arrested 12 suspects in a major anti-terror investigation which they said required “immediate intervention.”

The federal prosecutor’s office said Saturday that homes and car ports were searched in 16 municipalities, mostly in and around Brussels.

The statement said 40 people were taken for interrogation, of which 12 were arrested. It said there were no major incidents during the raids and that no arms or explosives were found.

The operation comes as Belgium remains under the second highest terror alert in wake of the March 22 attacks on the Brussels subway and airport which left 32 people dead.

Authorities are also especially attentive to security risks during the ongoing European soccer championships in neighboring France. Belgium is playing Ireland Saturday afternoon and big gatherings to watch the game are planned across the nation.

The prosecutor’s statement said that “the results of the investigation necessitated an immediate intervention,” indicating a violent attack was likely planned in the near future.

The federal prosecutor’s office did not link the raids to the March 22 attacks, even though an eighth suspect was arrested late Friday. The Belgian man, identified as Youssef E.A., was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to terrorist murders.”

Belgian media also reported that four top ministers, including Prime Minister Charles Michel, have received special protection following unspecified threats. The news could not immediately be confirmed.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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