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Belgian officials: 'Major terrorist attacks' thwarted
02:11 - Source: CNN

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Witness: "In this little city, everybody heard the sound"

Terrorist cell was plotting an imminent attack in Belgium, officials say

CNN  — 

[Breaking news update, posted at 11:50 p.m. ET]

A Western Intelligence source tells CNN that the ongoing terror threat appears to involve up to 20 sleeper cells of between 120 to 180 people ready to strike in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The source said that European Union and Middle East intelligence agencies identified an “imminent threat” to Belgium, possibly also to the Netherlands.

[Previous story, posted at 8 p.m. ET]

Belgian operation thwarted ‘major terrorist attacks’

(CNN) – A terror cell on the brink of carrying out an attack was the target of a raid Thursday that left two suspects dead, Belgian authorities said.

A third suspect was injured and taken into custody in the operation at a building in the eastern city of Verviers, prosecutor’s spokesman Thierry Werts told reporters.

A senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN that the alleged terror cell is believed to have received instructions from ISIS.

Some members of the cell had traveled to Syria and met with ISIS, which plotted the attacks as retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, the Belgian source said.

“This was in the framework of an operation looking into an operational cell made up of people, some of whom coming back from Syria,” Werts said. “The investigation made it possible to determine that the group was about to carry out major terrorist attacks in Belgium imminently.”

The operation, which authorities said was ongoing, added fresh fuel to a fear that’s been simmering for months as thousands of Europeans went off to join ISIS fighters in Syria.

Would they bring the war back with them when they returned home?

Gunfire rang out as authorities closed in

Frédéric Hausman was inside his house in Verviers when he heard the explosions start.