Brussels Police Arrest Three in Anti-Terror Raids

BRUSSELS (AP) -
Security and emergency-services officials in Schaerbeek, Belgium, on Friday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Security and emergency-services officials in Schaerbeek, Belgium, on Friday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Police raided Brussels neighborhoods again on Friday, in an operation a local official said was linked to both the airport and subway bombings and to the arrest in the Paris suburbs of a man who may have been plotting a new terror attack in France.

Three people were detained, with two of them shot in the leg, the federal prosecutor’s office said. The operation was conducted in the Schaerbeek district, which was raided Thursday night, as well as the Forest and Saint-Gilles neighborhoods.

Belgian state broadcaster RTBF said that one person who was detained had been carrying a bag of explosive material.

Heavily armed officers wearing hoods began the operation at about 1:30 p.m., when there were “two big explosions,” said resident Marie-Pierre Bouvez, and it lasted about two hours. Bouvez, a veterinarian, told The Associated Press that police kept the area locked down and shouted at her to “get back inside” when she tried to go into the street.

Schaerbeek district Mayor Bernard Clerfayt told RTBF that the raid was linked to the Brussels attacks and Thursday’s detention of a man in France.

On the third and final day of national mourning for Tuesday’s attacks that killed more than 30 people and wounded more than 270, Prime Minister Charles Michel skipped a wreath-laying ceremony at the airport with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry because of the police raids.

In a sermon before Friday prayers in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, home to some of the participants in the Paris attacks, Sheik Mohamed Tojgani denounced the Brussels bombers.

“Terrorism is terrorism,” said Tojgani, the imam of Molenbeek’s main mosque. “It has no state, no nationality, no religion, no country.”

In a message to the Belgian people, he added: “You are from us and we are from you. What affects you, affects us.”