Terror attacks: Belgium anti-terrorism raids see 21 arrested
BELGIAN police arrested 21 people in a series of anti-terrorism raids in three cities over the last two days, but Islamist militant Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected to be involved in the bloody attacks in Paris, remains on the run despite claims that he was sighted in the country.
Around 26,000 euros (S$39,237) in cash was seized during one of the searches, and other items found in the raids were also being examined, Agence France-Presse quoted a statement yesterday from Belgium's federal prosecutor's office as saying.
Brussels has been on its guard since it emerged that at least three Islamist militants behind the Nov 13 Paris attacks, which killed 130 people, lived in the city.
Abdeslam, who comes from Brussels' Molenbeek district, has not been found amid rumours that he was sighted in Belgium, where he might launch attacks.
"If someone has been on the run for a week, we must infer that he has support," Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said yesterday morning in a special broadcast by the local VTM station.
"Our work is not done yet. The action will continue until we haul up the whole lot," he added, referring to the police raids in Brussels, Charleroi and Liege over the last two days.
Mr Jambon said Brussels' security lockdown, started on Saturday, has to continue as long as the capital is under a serious threat.
But he also stressed that normal life must go on.
"Apart from the closed metro and schools, life goes on in Brussels. The public sector is open for business today, many companies are open," said Mr Jambon.
But the city of around 1.2 million people was quiet and business came to a standstill yesterday as gun-toting soldiers guarded the approaches to the buildings housing European Union institutions, reported Reuters.
Security guards stood outside supermarkets, which reopened after closing over the weekend.
Yesterday, Nato said its headquarters in the city were open but some staff had been asked to work from home and external visits had been cancelled.
Michael Raynaekers, who has run a flower shop near the European Commission for the last 18 years, is worried about his business.
"Business will be less than 50 per cent today," he told Bloomberg yesterday in his store.
"People are scared. Just look at the streets, they are empty."