Fear of looming terror attacks intensified across many European nations through Friday and Saturday as police in Belgium, France and Germany arrested over 20 individuals who are thought to have been planning terror attacks across the region.
In Belgium, 13 suspected jihadists were arrested after two individuals were killed in encounter with the police in a raid on Thursday in Verviers. According to authorities, the killing of the two individuals thwarted what would have been a series of attacks planned on police and police stations, various news reports have stated.
While countries in the European Union are doing everything they can to prevent any attacks, the region's police agency Europol has conceded that foiling all the attacks would be extremely difficult.
"The scale of the problem, the diffuse nature of the network, the scale of the people involved make this extremely difficult for even very well-functioning counter-terrorist agencies such as we have in France to stop every attack," Europol Chief Rob Wainwright told The Associated Press.
The Irish Independent reports citing documents recovered by police in various raids said that extremists planned to launch an attack on newsagents that sold the 'Chalie hebdo' magazine, 3 million copies of which were published on Wednesday with a cover picture of Prophet Muhammad – something that is widely speculated to garner further antagonism towards Western countries from Muslims around the world.
Thursday's raid, which was conducted on a terrorist cell, had been carried out after indications of "major and imminent" attacks in Belgium, a representative for the national prosecutor's office said in a news briefing. Some of the members of the cell had just returned from Syria, officials said although there has been no links established between the people arrested and last week's attacks in Paris.
Apart from the 13 people arrested in Belgium alone, there were a dozen more people apprehended in France on Friday in an early morning raid in the homes of those people known to Coulibaly – one of the suspects killed in France.
Police in Berlin also arrested two men who were reportedly suspected of recruiting fighters for ISIS group in Syria and Iraq.