Another three people released in alleged Brussels New Year plot


Brussels (AFP)

Two men remain in Belgian police custody over an alleged plot to launch New Year attacks in Brussels following the release of another three people in the case, prosecutors said Friday.

The last three of the six people arrested during raids on Thursday in and around the Belgian capital "have been released after interrogation," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The first three in the group were already released hours after their arrests on Thursday.

The prosecutor's office confirmed that two men who had already been formally charged with terrorism-related offences remain in custody.

It has identified the men as Said S., 30, and Mohammed K., 27.

The men's lawyers said their full names are Said Saouti and Mohammed Karay, whose arrests were announced Tuesday following police raids in and around Brussels and the eastern city of Liege.

Belgian authorities cancelled the annual New Year's Eve fireworks display and other events in the heart of Brussels after revealing an alleged jihadist plot to attack "emblematic sites" in the capital during the holiday.

The city of 1.2 million people has been on high alert since France said several men involved in the deadly November 13 attacks in Paris had links to Brussels, which is home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.

The prosecutor's office said the two men already formally charged over the end-of-year plot had been ordered by a court to be detained for another month.

It said Said S. has been charged with "threatening terrorist attacks" as well as playing a leading role in the activities of a terrorist group and recruiting potential attackers.

Mohammed K. faces similar charges.

Their lawyers told reporters outside the courthouse that their clients denied the charges.