Belgian counterterrorism police warn of possible ‘imminent’ attack, reports say – Washington Post

Belgian and French police have been warned that a group of “combatants” left Syria intending to carry out attacks in France and Belgium, according to a Belgian counterterrorism alert, local media reported Wednesday.

The apparent warning comes two days after a deadly knife attack in France that was suspected to be inspired by the Islamic State, and three days after an attack in Orlando that killed 49 people, plus the shooter.

France has been on heightened terrorism alert as it hosts the European soccer championship, which started last week. 

It was not immediately clear how seriously French and Belgian authorities were treating the threat. French authorities told local newspapers that such warnings are relatively common.

“According to the information received, these people could already in be in possession of the necessary weapons and their action could be imminent,” the alert said, according to the Belgian Dernière Heure newspaper.

The attackers were expected to split into two groups, one heading toward France and the other toward Belgium, and to conduct attacks in pairs, the alert said. It offered no details on the basis of the information.

Belgian counterterrorism police declined to comment. Belgium’s security threat coordination center has not raised its threat level, which is currently set at three out of four levels, with the fourth being the expectation of an imminent attack.

The group was planning to travel from Syria into Europe via boat from Turkey to Greece, without passports, according to the alert.

Possible Belgian targets include a Brussels shopping center, an American fast-food chain and a police station, the newspaper reported.

On Monday, an attacker claiming loyalty to the Islamic State killed a police captain and his partner, who worked at a police department outside Paris. The assailant was killed in a police raid.

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