12 arrested in Belgian anti-terrorism sweep

12-arrested-in-Belgian-anti-terrorism-sweep.  BRUSSELS,  In a sweep of anti-terrorism, Belgian authorities arrested 12 people early Saturday morning.

Belgian troops patrol a road leading to Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24. Two days earlier, bomb blasts hit Brussels’ airport and the Maelbeek subway station. On Saturday, Belgian authorities arrested 12 people in an anti-terorism sweep. File photo by Albert Masias/ UPI | License Photo

The raids were conducted in 16 cities, mostly near Brussels. Forty people were detained and a dozen were arrested, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

The raids came as Islamic State leaders have called for attacks during the month-long Ramadan, which ends early next month.

The European soccer championships are taking place in France, and Belgium plays Ireland on Saturday afternoon.

Security was tightened for four top Belgian leaders, including Prime Minister Charles Michel after threats against them, according to media reports.

“The investigatory results necessitated an immediate intervention,” Belgian prosecutors said in a statement. “The investigation continues. In the interest of the investigation, currently no further details can be given.”

No weapons or explosives were found, the prosecutors said.

A Belgian counterterrorism warning was reported Wednesday that some terrorists had recently left Syria for Belgium and France with plans for an attack.

They said the raids were not connected to the March 22 attacks at Brussels’ airport and metro that killed 32. An eight suspect was arrested, Youssef E.A., 30, by prosecutors Friday. Also, five others suspects were taken to a Brussels safe house to assist in reconstructing the crime, prosecutors said.

By Allen Cone