Belgium charges nine with terrorism after sweeps

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Belgian authorities charged nine people with belonging to terrorist groups Wednesday after sweeps against a Chechen-linked Islamist network and a group suspected of recruiting Afghan war fighters.

Police rounded up six Belgian-Moroccans and a Russian of Chechen origin in the northern port city of Antwerp on Tuesday over a plot to launch an attack on an unspecified target in Belgium.

Fifteen other people were detained in Brussels the same day in an unrelated probe into a group accused of looking for volunteers to join the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The seven people detained in Antwerp and two of the 15 detained in Brussels were placed under arrest for participating in a terrorist group," Leen Nuyts, a spokeswoman for the Belgian prosecutor's office, told AFP.

Thirteen of the people detained in the raids in Brussels were released.

As part of the sweeps against the group suspected of plotting an attack in Belgium, three Dutch people of Moroccan origin were detained in Amsterdam while police in Germany arrested a 31-year-old Russian of Chechen origin in Aachen.

All four are expected to be extradited to Belgium, Nuyts said.

© 2010 AFP

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