Scores of soldiers are being deployed across Belgium to patrol the streets in a bid to thwart possible terror attacks after security forces began crackdown on a suspected Muslim terrorist cell in the country.
Around 150 troops were sent to the northern town of Antwerp in Saturday, which is home to the NATO headquarters, various EU offices as well as the US and Israeli embassies.
According to a statement by Prime Minister Charles Michel’s office, the mobilized soldiers “will be armed and their primary responsibility will be to survey certain sites” and to strengthen police forces.
Armed soldiers also took positions in front of the Jewish Museum of Brussels. As many as 300 troops are to be deployed in the operation.
The soldiers could be also dispatched to the eastern city of Verviers, where two suspected militants were shot dead by police during a huge security operation on Friday.
Thierry Werts of the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office told a press conference in Brussels that the massive offensive was carried out to foil an imminent terror plot in the region.
The raid in Belgium came shortly after terrorist attacks in and around the French capital city of Paris left 17 people dead. European countries are concerned about the threat posed by young militants who come back home after fighting alongside Takfiri terrorist groups in the Middle East.
After Verviers’ raid, Belgian police detained nearly 15 people during a series of raids across Belgium. Five of the arrestees were charged with taking part “in the activities of a terrorist group.”
Police also discovered arms, bomb-making materials, police uniforms and fake documents during their searches in the militants’ homes.
On Friday, head of the European Union’s police agency, Europol, confirmed that preventing terror attacks has become extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies in Europe.
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