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Greek authorities question Belgium attack plot suspects

Belgian soldiers guard outside the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, near the Belgian Parliament January 17

Greek authorities have detained several people for questioning in connection with the foiled Islamist plot to attack Belgian police, Greek police said on Saturday.

If enough evidence was produced during the questioning, Greek authorities would send DNA samples to their Belgian colleagues for further investigation, a Greek police official said.

Earlier on Saturday, Belgian state broadcasters said authorities were seeking a Brussels man of Moroccan origin who was hiding in Greece.

Greek police said international security coordinators had passed on the names of several people in connection with the plot in Belgium to check if they were in Greece or had passed through the country.

They did not comment on whether the man named by Belgian media was on that list.

A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutors’ office was not available to comment on the events in Greece.

On Thursday, police killed two gunmen during raids in the east Belgian town of Verviers.

Thirteen suspects were subsequently arrested throughout the country and two others held in France on Belgium’s request.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s raids, Belgium raised its national alert level and deployed hundreds of troops to back up police and protect embassies, EU institutions and Jewish sites.

Up to 300 military will be stationed at locations such as the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Brussels and NATO and EU institutions.

“It’s very important to say that this wasn’t a simple decision, but it was necessary, at a time when police are overly engaged, for the army to enter in a supporting role,” Defence Minister Steven Vandeput told reporters.

Troops will reinforce police at least until Thursday, when authorities will review the national threat level, set at 3 on a scale of 4 this week.

The government raised the threat level after a raid in the east Belgian town of Verviers on Thursday in which police shot dead two gunmen. Authorities said the Islamist cell had been preparing an attack on police.

The first military company to be deployed on Belgium’s streets was the Chasseurs Ardennais, an infantry unit from the Ardennes region.

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