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Dozens of raids, 12 arrests in Belgian anti-terror raid

Belgian authorities, fearing an imminent terror attack, arrested 12 people in dozens of overnight raids in a major security operation, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office said Saturday.

According to Flemish broadcaster VTM, the people arrested were suspected of planning an attack during Saturday afternoon's Euro 2016 match between Belgium and Ireland in France.

On Friday police arrested and detained a man named as Youssef EA, a Belgian national, on suspicion of taking part in terrorist activities in connection with the Brussels attacks.

A terror attack on fans watching Euro 2016 was foiled with just hours to spare, Belgian officials indicated yesterday (Saturday), as 12 suspects were arrested.

Searches were conducted overnight in 16 municipalities, mainly around Brussels, with checks on 152 lock-up garages.

"It will be the case in the coming hours that we will take additional and adapted measures", said Prime Minister Charles Michel after a meeting of the nation's security council. Numerous suspects involved in the Paris attacks grew up and lived in Molenbeek, including terror mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Abdeslam brothers, and Mohamed Abrini, who was also involved in the Brussels attacks.

"We are extremely vigilant, we are monitoring the situation hour by hour and we will continue with determination the fight against extremism, radicalization and terrorism", Michel said.

"We want to continue living normally", Michel told a news conference.

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The prosecutor's statement said that "the results of the investigation necessitated an immediate intervention", indicating a violent attack was probably planned in the near future. The statement said there were no major incidents during the raids and no arms or explosives were found.

The man was charged Friday with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to commit terrorist murders, as a perpetrator, co-perpetrator or accomplice".

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In March, Brussels' Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station were attacked, leaving 31 people dead, including the bombers, and wounding at least 270 in the worst such incident in Belgian history.

With a population of about 11 million people, Belgium has been the source of more Islamic State (IS formerly, ISIS/ISIL) recruits per capita than any other country in Europe, according to the United Nations Working Group.

Interrogations of the three men throughout Saturday didn't provide any further clues on how concrete their plans for a possible attack were or what they might have been targeting, Mr. Van der Sypt said.

It was reported earlier this week that Belgian anti-terrorist police had sent a communiqué to their French counterparts saying that a group of Isis fighters had been sent from Syria to carry out attacks in France and Belgium.

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