Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Riot erupts at Brussels peace shrine

Raf Casert Associated Press

BRUSSELS – Belgian riot police clashed Sunday with hundreds of right-wing hooligans at a temporary shrine honoring victims of the Brussels suicide bombings, as investigators launched fresh anti-terror raids, taking four more people into custody.

Police used water cannons when scuffles broke out in front of the Bourse, which has become a symbolic rallying point for people to pay their respects to those who died in Tuesday’s attacks. Black-clad men carrying an anti-Islamic State group banner with an expletive on it trampled parts of the shrine, shouting Nazi slogans. Ten were arrested and two police officers injured.

“We had 340 hooligans from different football clubs who came to Brussels and we knew for sure that they would create some trouble,” Police Commissioner Christian De Coninck said. “It was a very difficult police operation because lots of families with kids were here.”

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur expressed his disgust, with Belgium still in mourning over the suicide bombings at Brussels airport and subway, which killed at least 31 people and injured some 270.

“The police were not deployed to protect people from these hooligans but a whole other threat,” Mayeur told RTL television.

People trying to pay their respects were also dismayed.

“We are all here today for peace, and for the brotherhood among peoples. Not for right-wing ideas. It’s neither the time nor the place,” said Theophile Mouange, 52.

Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, said Sunday morning’s raids were linked to a “federal case regarding terrorism” but did not specify whether it had any links to the March 22 attacks.

Thirteen raids were launched in the capital and the northern cities of Mechelen and Duffel. An investigating judge was to decide later whether to keep the four in custody. Five were released after questioning.

Suspected plotters also were arrested Sunday in Italy and the Netherlands, though few details of their activity were released immediately.

Dutch police arrested a 32-year-old Frenchman in the port city of Rotterdam on Sunday at the request of French authorities who suspect him of “involvement in planning a terror attack,” prosecutors said.

The suspect was allegedly involved in a plot disrupted by police in the Paris region last week, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Another Frenchman, Reda Kriket, was detained Thursday in that plot, and remains in custody.

Three other men were detained in the Dutch raids; two with Algerian backgrounds and a third man whose identity could not immediately be established.

Italian police in the southern city of Salerno said Sunday that they had arrested an Algerian wanted in Belgium for an alleged false ID crime ring. Djamal Eddine Ouali was arrested Saturday in the town of Bellizzi, said Luigi Amato, the head of Salerno police’s anti-terrorism squad. Ouali, 40, was being held in jail while authorities expect extradition procedures to soon begin.

Belgian prosecutors said Sunday that the man is thought to have made false documents for some of the attackers in the Nov. 13 massacre in Paris.