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15 terror suspects held in Belgium

From CNN Producer Eden Pontz

BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Working with Italian authorities, Belgian police have arrested 15 people, mainly of Arab and North African origin, in a series of raids early Tuesday morning, said Belgian's federal prosecutor dealing with terrorism cases.

Federal Prosecutor Johan Delmulle said more than 200 officers were involved in raids taking place at 10 locations across Brussels and Antwerp.

During the sweeps, which took place at 5 a.m. (0400 GMT), police found suspicious papers, videocassettes, computers, mobile phones and books, but no weapons or explosives.

Although Delmulle noted it's still unclear whether those arrested are a part of a terrorist cell, he said, "It is clear that there are links with persons who are related to the attacks in Madrid."

Despite the lack of weapons, authorities said evidence they gained from telephone wiretaps and other techniques led them to believe those arrested were planning an attack.

All of those detained had foreign passports, and most were Palestinian, Moroccan, Jordanian, and Egyptian, he said.

Delmulle said the investigators were working with information given to them by Italian authorities, but an ongoing judicial investigation file has existed for about two months.

"We were investigating them based on a new law that was against terrorism, voted into law in Belgium at the end of last year," Delmulle said.

The new law says the participation in any activity of any group linked to terrorism is punishable by law.

Those arrested must appear before an investigative judge, who has 24 hours to decide whether to free them or put them into protective custody.


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