Update as of 5:25 a.m. EST: Thirteen people have been detained in Belgium following anti-terrorism raids in the eastern city of Verviers, state prosecutors said, according to The Associated Press. Nine people were arrested in Molenbeek, two in Brussels, one in Berchem and another in Verviers.
Police in Verviers reportedly found four Kalashnikovs, weapons, explosives, police uniforms, false documents and a significant amount of cash in an apartment during the raids.
Update as of 3:07 a.m. EST: Jewish schools in the Belgian cities of Antwerp and Brussels have been temporarily closed following the raid in Verviers, Haaretz reported Friday, adding that orthodox Jewish schools in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, were also closed.
However, there was no concrete threat against the Cheider School in Amsterdam, Haaretz reported, citing NOS, a Dutch national network, which cited the school's Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.
Update as of 2:10 a.m. EST: Following anti-terror raids in the country on Thursday, the Belgian government announced that the national threat level had been raised to three -- the second highest on a four-point scale.
“We are not aware of any specific or concrete threats. However, in the situation we can consider it is useful to raise the level of prudence and vigilance,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told Reuters. Earlier on Thursday, two people were killed and one person was arrested in counterterrorism raids in the eastern city of Verviers.
Update as of 5:30 p.m. EST: Belgian officials confirmed Thursday night that police killed two men in a confrontation during a raid on an Islamist group preparing to act, Reuters reported. Authorities also injured and arrested a third person. The suspects, who were allegedly going to attack police stations in Belgium, were not identified.
"The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised," prosecutor's spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told Reuters.
CNN reported the terror cell could be linked to the Islamic State group, or ISIS, which may have orchestrated the planned attacks in reaction to recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Police had been watching the Belgian group well before last week's shootings at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in France. "The searches were carried out as part of an investigation into an operational cell some of whose members had returned from Syria," Van Der Sypt said. "For the time being, there is no connection with the attacks in Paris."
At least two people have been killed and another seriously injured in the eastern Belgium city of Verviers during a police counterterrorism raid, according to multiple media reports. Belgian public television channel RTBF reported on its website that the public prosecutor’s office had confirmed at least two deaths after a police operation against an alleged terrorist group at around 6 p.m., local time, on Thursday, the Guardian reported. The TV channel reported that several people have been arrested in the raid.
Belga News Agency said there were several casualties and that police activity was continuing. Explosions and detonations reverberated near the train station in Verviers, a witness told the public television station. Named only as Marie-Laure, the witness said a helmeted police officer instructed her to leave a crosswalk where there was a small blue van and a car. Other police vehicles were on the scene, along with an anti-explosive unit and ambulances, according to the Guardian's report.
Three or four explosions and more than 10 gunshots were heard. There appeared to be police activity continuing at the scene in Verviers, some 70 miles from Brussels. A press conference was due to take place at 8 p.m., local time.
The reports of the raid in Belgium come on the heels of the terror attacks at the Paris headquarters of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A pair of gunmen stormed the offices and killed 12 people, including a cartoonist who drew a cartoon lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. The men, described by French authorities as Islamic extremists of Algerian descent, claimed to be exacting revenge on Charlie Hebdo for disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad. They were killed after a standoff with police last Friday.
Staff Writer Julia Glum contributed to this article.