May 26, 2016 / 12:33 PM / 3 years ago

Raided Belgian cell had possible targets in second city Antwerp

A Belgian paratrooper stands guards outside the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, near the Belgian Parliament January 17, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A suspected Belgian Islamist group raided on Wednesday had potential attack targets in Belgium’s second city of Antwerp including the main railway station, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.

Belgian police searched eight homes on Wednesday, mostly in the port city, and detained four teenagers who were charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist organization.

Those detained are suspected of seeking to recruit people to travel to Syria or Libya. Some are also suspected of planning to join Islamic State there themselves.

Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad said the group members were in direct contact with a prominent Belgian militant in Islamic State’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

The group received orders from Hicham Chaib, also known as Abu Hanifa al-Baljiki (The Belgian), the newspaper said. Chaib, who grew up in an Antwerp suburb, has been seen in an Islamic State video taunting his own country.

No weapons or explosives were found during the house searches and there was no apparent link with the March 22 suicide bombings at the international airport and on the metro in Brussels that killed 31 people.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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