Belgium

Six assaults foiled since November 2014

BRUSSELS • Belgium has prevented six attacks over the past two years, a senior police official said, with the country still a prominent target for terrorists.

"I can announce... that over two years, since November 2014 precisely, we have been able to foil at least six attacks," Mr Eric Jacobs, head of the judicial police in Brussels, told the daily La Derniere Heure in an interview on Tuesday, without offering further details.

Mr Jacobs said Belgium has been fighting terrorism for 20 years but with the population growing in the capital, the number of groups has multiplied.

"There are more than 200 nationalities in the capital. There is not only Daesh. There are other radical movements," he said, using another name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In January last year, Belgian police dismantled a cell in Verviers in the east of the country which was later seen as the rough beginnings of the terrorist group that attacked Paris in November that year.

And on March 22, ISIS-linked attackers struck Brussels airport and the metro, killing 32 people, despite the arrest in the capital only four days earlier of the last surviving terrorist from the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam.

Since that attack, Belgian police and intelligence services have seen a major increase in information, "up to 600 tips daily", Mr Jacobs said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline 'Six assaults foiled since November 2014'. Print Edition | Subscribe