Two suspected terrorists have been killed by Belgian authorities, who launched a series of counterterrorism earlier today. Belgian officials have been tracking multiple people who had returned from Syria for at least a few weeks, and some of them were suspected of planning “terrorist attacks on a grand scale,” according to Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for Belgian prosecutors.
“The searches were carried out as part of an investigation into an operational cell some of whose members had returned from Syria,” Van Der Sypt told the press, according to Reuters. He added that officials do not think the people targeted in the raids are connected to last week’s attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office, or the separate assaults on a French policewoman and a kosher market. “For the time being, there is no connection with the attacks in Paris.”
Van Der Sypt went on to describe the shootout that led to two suspects being killed. “The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralized,” Van Der Sypt said.
Citing a “senior Belgian counterterrorism official,” CNN reports that “the alleged terror cell is believed to have received instructions from ISIS,” or the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls large portions of Iraq and Syria. The suspects’ foreign ties are not confirmed.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.