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Belgium Police arrest 4 for planning terrorist attack in Antwerp

Belgium Police arrest 4 for planning terrorist attack in Antwerp

Four young people who were taken into custody by Belgian police this week had discussed the possibility of carrying out a terrorist attack in the northern city of Antwerp, a report said on Thursday.

The plans were not far advanced, but the suspects, aged 16 to 19 had in recent months discussed targeting a place in Antwerp where many people gather, the newspaper De Standaard wrote.


The city's main train station had reportedly been mentioned as a possibility.

The daily also said that the suspects had been in contact with Hicham Chaib, an Antwerp native, who has become a leading figure with the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office confirmed on Wednesday evening that four people had been taken into custody and charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group.

"These people are suspected of having wanted to recruit people to go to conflict zones in Syria or Libya.

"Some of them had the intention of leaving themselves and joining the Islamic State terrorist group.

"Based on the provisional results of the investigation, it appears that there were attack plans in Belgium," the prosecutors said.

No weapons or explosives were found during eight police raids that were carried out in Antwerp, its neighbourhood of Borgerhout and the town of Ternat in connection with the arrests.

One suspect was kept in custody, while another was released with an electronic tag.

The prosecutors said that two remaining suspects were also released, but instructed to comply with strict conditions.

They added that no link had so far been established to the terrorist attacks that left more than 30 people dead in the Belgian capital Brussels on March 22.

Chaib was among the extremists who had claimed responsibility on behalf of Islamic State for those attacks.

He had warned in a video that the Brussels attacks were only a foretaste of things to come, Belgian media had reported in March.

Belgium is part of a U.S.-led coalition that has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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