Terror charges after swoop on Kurds in Belgium

6th March 2010, Comments 0 comments

Belgian prosecutors have charged eight people with taking part in "the activities of a terrorist group," a spokeswoman said, the day after a police swoop on Kurdish suspects.

BRUSSELS - Lieve Pellens of the Federal Belgian prosecutor's office said a Brussels magistrate remanded seven people in custody, out of 12 brought before officials after 18 people were picked up by Brussels police on Thursday.

One out of four people brought before a magistrate in southern Charleroi was also charged and held, she added.

The eight, whose identities were not revealed, stand "charged with having taken part in the activities of a terrorist group," she stated.

The group will appear before legal officers on Tuesday, who will decide whether their detention is extended.

Hundreds of Belgian police rounded up high-profile Kurds as part of a Europe-wide investigation into alleged "terrorist" operations, drawing Kurdish ire and Turkish delight in equal measure.

The arrests included ex-lawmakers, according to Turkish sources, after raids that followed an announcement by France on Wednesday that nine Kurds were charged with terror offences, allegedly recruiting fighters for the PKK separatist group.

Similar operations have been conducted in Italy.

Considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, the PKK took up arms against Ankara in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Ankara has long urged a clampdown on Kurdish militants in Europe, saying that they are financing the PKK -- listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community -- through drug-trafficking, people smuggling and extortion.


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