Explosions blasted separate locations in Brussels as police execute several raids on terrorist locations and arrest suspects in Belgium, France and Germany.
In a raid that began in the Schaerbeek area in north Brussels, one suspect, who was shot in the leg at a tram station while in possession of a rucksack which was alleged to contain explosives. It was believed he was part of an attack planned in Paris that was thwarted by French authorities Thursday evening.
The suspect at the tram station pulled a woman to the ground with him in an apparent effort to hold her hostage. Armed officers were able to pull the woman to safety, drag the man to the side of the station and bring in a bomb robot to investigate the rucksack.
Pictures afterward showed smoke seeping from the rucksack, confirming police suspicions that the bag contained explosives.
An explosion was heard from a square near the downtown offices of the Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
Hotel receptionist, Salah Eddine, 42, said, “There was an explosion, a bomb, in the square over there, close to the offices of RTBF, the national broadcaster. I lived just around the corner. I am married, we have a daughter. This is terrifying. It’s terrible, too much.”
Reports of a separate raid of an 80-room hotel in a town 60 miles south of the capital resulted in the arrest of 3 foreign men and the evacuation of the building as it was scoured for explosives. Suspicious looking packages were found placed in a car and in a hotel room near a building where a business conference was hosted. Bomb experts were called to examine the packages.
The raids in Belgium were concurrent with raids and arrests made in Paris and in Germany.
The German federal police chief stated that ISIS may be eager if not desperate to carry out “spectacular” attacks as it has come under heavy pressure and lost control of areas in Iraq and Syria. As a result, the authorities believe there is high-risk for more Brussels-style attacks to occur across Europe.