Two confirmed dead in Belgian anti-terror raids that stopped 'imminent' attacks across Europe

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Two confirmed dead in Belgian anti-terror raids that stopped 'imminent' attacks across Europe
A police officer blocks the Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgian authorities say at least 13 people have been detained in Belgium and two arrested in France in an anti-terror sweep following a firefight in which two suspected terrorists were killed. (Jan. 16)
Members of the forensic team arrive at Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the forensic team takes pictures at Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the forensic team work at Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
An armed policeman stands guard at the entrance of Belgium's federal prosecutor office in Brussels, January 16, 2015. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A Belgian police officer guards a street in Verviers, Belgium, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Armed Belgian police officers guard a street in Verviers, Belgium, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The street was blocked after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium on Thursday in which two people were killed and one arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A car leaving the crime scene in Verviers, Belgium, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 shows three bullet wholes. Police blocks a street after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium. Belgian authorities said two people were killed and one was arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A journalist reads a newspaper about the Belgian police raid, near Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing plot to kill police officers 'in public roads and in police stations', prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer blocks a street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 16, 2015, after police shot dead two suspects in a gun battle after they opened fire on officers with heavy weapons, and arrested a third man. Belgium was on high alert after two suspected jihadists were killed in a police raid, while German and French police made fresh arrests to put Europe on edge a week after the Islamist attacks in Paris. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
A car leaving the crime scene in Verviers, Belgium, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 shows three bullet wholes. Police blocks a street after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium. Belgian authorities said two people were killed and one arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Police checks the identity of people who want to enter a government building in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Thirteen people were detained in Belgium and two arrested in France in an anti-terror sweep following a firefight in which two suspected terrorists were killed in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police block Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two were killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two were reportedly killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two were killed and one was wounded during an anti-terror raid in the Belgian town of Verviers.
Police cars and vans are parked in a street as police set up a large security perimeter in the city center of Verviers, eastern Belgium, where three people were reportedly killed in an anti-terrorism operation on January 15, 2015. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15, with reports saying there were three deaths. Public broadcaster RTBF reported three deaths and said explosions were heard at the scene, but there was no immediate confirmation. The incident comes as Europe is on high alert after 17 people were killed in the Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris last week. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BRUNO FAHY --BELGIUM OUT-- (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two were killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two were reportedly killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two were reportedly killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists and residents stand near police vehicles as police set a large security perimeter in the city center of Verviers on January 15, 2015, during a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers today, with reports saying three people had been killed. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BRUNO FAHY ***BELGIUM OUT*** (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer walks near locals as police set a large security perimeter around 6 Colline street in the city center of Verviers, eastern Belgium, where three people were reportedly killed in an anti-terrorism operation on January 15, 2015. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15, with reports saying there were three deaths. Public broadcaster RTBF reported three deaths and said explosions were heard at the scene, but there was no immediate confirmation. The incident comes as Europe is on high alert after 17 people were killed in the Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris last week. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BRUNO FAHY --BELGIUM OUT-- (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists and residents stand near police vehicles as police set a large security perimeter in the city center of Verviers on January 15, 2015, during a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation. Public broadcaster RTBF reported three deaths and said explosions were heard at the scene, but there was no immediate confirmation. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BRUNO FAHY ***BELGIUM OUT*** (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgian security officers guard a street blocked by a screen in Verviers, Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Belgian police officers guard a street in Verviers, Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
In this image made from video, police and emergency response vehicles block a street after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/RTL - TVI) BELGIUM OUT
Special police forces guard a street in Verviers, Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Police blocked a street after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo / Frank Augstein)
Special police forces guard a street in Verviers, Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Police blocked a street after security forces took part in anti-terrorist raids in Verviers, eastern Belgium. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Belgium's federalprosecutor Eric Van der Sypt gives a press conference in Brussels, on January 15, 2015 after an anti-terrorist operation during which two were reportedly killed. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group was about to launch 'large-scale' attacks in the country after returning from Syria. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ **Belgium Out** (Photo credit should read LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgium's federal prosecutor spokesman Eric Van der Sypt (C) talks to the press at a press conference in Brussels, on January 15, 2015, after an anti-terrorist operation during which two were reportedly killed. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group was about to launch 'large-scale' attacks in the country after returning from Syria. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers work in a cordoned off section of Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two suspected jihadists were killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police shot dead two suspects in a huge operation against jihadists who had returned from Syria and planned an imminent attack, a new horror for Europe just days after the Paris massacre. Prosecutors said a third suspect was injured after heavily-armed militants with Kalashnikov assault rifles opened fire on police carrying out a raid on a property in Verviers, eastern Belgium. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL VAN HOORN --NETHERLANDS OUT-- (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen and forencic police work into a marked out perimeter in Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two men were reportedly killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / BELGA PHOTO / BRUNO FAHY ** BELGIUM OUT ** (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen and forencic police work into a marked out perimeter in Colline street in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on January 15, 2015, after two men were reportedly killed during an anti-terrorist operation. Belgian police launched a 'jihadist-related' anti-terrorism operation in the eastern town of Verviers on January 15. According to the Belgian prosecutor's office, the group which police targeted was about to commit a terror attack. AFP PHOTO / BELGA PHOTO / BRUNO FAHY ** BELGIUM OUT ** (Photo credit should read BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgian police officers guard a street in Verviers, Belgium, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Belgian authorities say two people have been killed and one has been arrested during a shootout in an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern city of Verviers. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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By RYAN GORMAN

Two people were killed when Belgian police halted what local officials are calling "a second Paris," a reference to last week's terror attacks in the French capital.

The deaths occurred Thursday evening as anti-terror police carried out an anti-terror operation in the small city of Verviers, about 80 miles east of Brussels, officials confirmed in a Thursday evening press conference. Another person was seriously injured and has been detained.

The suspected terrorists are Arab-French, recently returned from Syria and are believed to have Islamic State ties, according to the Federal Prosecutor's Office.

Multiple other searches were being carried out across the country, police said. Those were confirmed by newspaper La Libre to be taking place in both the capital Brussels and the city of Vanderlecht.



The Verviers terror cell was going to "imminently" carry out a massive terror attack, authorities said. It is believed they were planning to firebomb a police station before carrying out several other attacks.

The extremists opened fire on police as they closed in while serving a warrant, officials said.

"The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on specials units of the federal police before they were neutralized," said federal prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt.

Belgian network VTM reported the raid occurred near the central Verviers train station. Video from the scene shows a raging fire, dozens of gunshot can be heard over the sound of several people shouting.



Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad quoted a local official who said the terror cell was tied to ISIS and that "a second Paris has been avoided," but authorities at the press conference stopped short of making a similar claim -- instead insisting the panic should remain calm and that everything was under control.

The country's terror alert level has been raised to three (out of a possible four), but only in certain areas, officials also announced.

Witnesses told RTBF that three or four explosions were then followed by dozens of gun shots.

"I first heard an explosion and then gunshots," another witness told RTBF, according to Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad. Another witness claimed the gunfire lasted for about 10 minutes.

Pictures from social media show a heavy police presence in the town center.

6 PHOTOS
Belgian terror raid
See Gallery
Two confirmed dead in Belgian anti-terror raids that stopped 'imminent' attacks across Europe
Photo d'un témoin (Facebook) sur place #Verviers http://t.co/VmSTXuf3p8
The scene in #Verviers, #Belgium http://t.co/IOfPa3sCxo
Among western nations, Belgium highest % of foreign fighters in #Syria given small size of country (@TheEconomist) http://t.co/9HGZ5425LO
Je ne sais pas ce que c’était, mais ça a bien pété à Verviers… 3-4 grosses explosions et plein d’autres comme des munitions..
Latest footage from Verviers, Belgium, where deaths have been reported in counter-terror raids by police http://t.co/RUCjiZWUgt
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At least one of the now-deceased suspects in the Paris terror attacks bought his weapons in Belgium, but it is not clear if this raid was in connection with those events.

A man suspected to have sold those guns was detained in another part of the country, Fox News reported. Other people have also been detained in cities around Belgium, including Brussels and Zaventum, after recently returning from Syria, according to Nieuwsblad.

Paris is about 200 miles south of Verviers.
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