Brussels – Belgian police have carried out a major operation in the Molenbeek district of the capital Brussels which is home to many of the immigrants of Arab and Islam origins. Four raids took place but no arms or explosives were found, but the police arrested three persons, and later released them.
Police sealed off several roads in the area and were backed by a helicopter flying overhead.
“Several raids are being carried out as part of an investigation into terrorist activities,” Brussels prosecutor’s office spokeswoman announced.
The prosecutor said they had have detained three people in a series of anti-terror raids, who were interrogated over the night and later released.
Local media said several individuals had been arrested in the raids and the police were probably looking for weapons and explosives.
Brussels prosecutor’s office said: “The action has ended. Nothing was found, no weapons, no explosives.”
Several raids had previously occurred in Molenbeek following the multiple terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people. Police were looking for the sole survivor of the terrorists who executed the attacks Salah Abdeslam.
Abdeslam was arrested on March 19, 2016 in Molenbeek and a few days later, Belgium airport and metro station were targeted, killing 32 people and injuring 300 others.
Prosecutors charged about 20 people in Belgium in connection with the killings in Paris. Police have raided several residences in the district since, but have often failed to produce evidence or contraband – as appears to have again been the case on Sunday.
European Parliament set its session in Brussels to discuss cooperation between different European police agencies.
Recent attacks in Europe had unveiled the inadequacy in intelligence cooperation.
On Wednesday, the parliament will discuss the request for ensuring better information exchange between national law enforcement authorities and EU agencies, increased operational cooperation, and support of actions in counter-terror policy such as training and co-funding in EU Member States.
Hungarian police arrested a 19-year old French girl and an 18-year old Belgian girl wanted for involvement in terrorist activities, while they were trying to escape to Bulgaria. The two girls were arrested at the country’s southern border with Serbia on a bus heading to Sophia.
Earlier in November, the Belgian Ministry of Interior decided to revoke the citizenship of 15 people before they left Belgium towards Syria to fight with armed groups. Ministry spokesperson said that the 15 individuals are aged between 17 and 28.
European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol has warned in a report that ISIS may step up attacks in Europe as it loses ground in the Middle East and foreign fighters return to their home countries, especially after several loses in Syria and Iraq.