Belgium has been on high alert since police carried out a series of raids last Thursday, acting on information that a terrorist cell was about to carry out attacks against police officers. Two suspects died in one of the raids, in the eastern city of Verviers.
The operation came one week after terrorist attacks in France, but Belgian authorities say they have no indication that the incidents are linked.
A Belgian court on Wednesday prolonged the custody of three men detained in Verviers, all charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group and violating weapons laws.
They were identified as Marouan E, born in 1989, and Mohamed A and Billel H, both born the following year. All three are Belgian nationals.
Marouan E, who has been identified by media as Marouan El Bali, was with the two suspects who were killed and is suspected of having provided logistical support to the terrorist cell, the Belga news agency reported.
But his lawyer told Belga that El Bali was only visiting a friend in Verviers and knew nothing of the planned attacks.
The lawyer for Mohamed A, identified by media as Mohamed Hamja Arshad Mamood Hajni, also denied that his client was involved in the plot, telling Belga that he “absolutely does not have the profile of a fanatic.”
During the Verviers raid, police also found a Dutch passport in the name of Zaiud K, the prosecution statement said, adding that a separate case has been opened in the Netherlands.
An Algerian by the name of Omar S, who is being extradited to Belgium after being detained in Greece, could arrive “in the following days,” the prosecution said.
Another suspect, Belgian national Abdelmounaim H, was arrested on Tuesday and also charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group. He will appear in court on Friday.
The 21-year-old, identified by media as Abdelmounaim Haddad, was initially thought to have fled to Spain, but was found at his home wearing an electronic tag, Belga reported, adding that the Spanish authorities were still looking for the Dutch suspect.
The prosecution identified the two people killed in Verviers as Belgian-Moroccan national Sofiane A, and Khalid B of Belgium.
Three other individuals were arrested last Thursday at the airport of Charleroi, where they were trying to fly to Greece in order to ultimately reach Syria, the prosecution said.
They were identified as Moroccan national Abdelkader B and two Belgians, Mohamed-Amine B and Melissa F, who was travelling with a 13-month old child and was apparently planning to rejoin her husband in Syria.
The court also decided Wednesday to extend their custody. They have been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group.