Casualties in Belgium police anti-terror raid in Verviers

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Three people have been killed during a terrorism-related police operation against suspected jihadists in Belgium, a federal prosecutor said.

Local residents in Verviers, in the east of the country, heard a fusillade of machine gun shots and explosions.

Reports indicate that the gunfight followed a foiled jihadist attack on a local police station.

“A second Paris has been avoided,” a ministry of justice source told Nieuwsblad newspaper.

A local resident said: “I heard two explosions and saw two young men run away. They were between 25 and 30 years of Arab origin.”

Another local resident told RTBF television: “I heard a sort of explosion, followed by several gunshots. For the moment, I cannot tell you any more because I don’t dare go out to see what is happening.”

A third resident said “machineguns were firing for about 10 minutes.”

A number of people have been arrested. The operation is now believed to be over.

The Belgian prosecutor said the situation was “under control”.

Another resident told RTBF television: “I was just going to pick up my kids from school. We saw a blue van and another car in the middle of the street.

“At first I thought it was an accident. But then we saw police cars right down the street.. A man walking on the street fled. I’m started running. Immediately afterwards we heard three or four large explosions and gunfire.”

The raid was part of a major anti-terrorist operation by the federal police being carried out across Belgium.

Earlier this week, police arrested an arms dealer alleged to be linked to the sale of weapons sold weapons used in the Paris terrorist attacks.

Neetin Farasula, from Charleroi in French-speaking southern Belgium, is thought to have been involved in negotiating the sale of guns to Amedy Coulibaly.

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