Nine people have been arrested during nine raids conducted across Brussels by Belgian police. The detentions are in connection with the deadly attacks in Paris on 13 November, according to prosecutors.
Seven people were "taken in for further investigation" during six swoops linked to Stade de France suicide bomber, Bilal Hadfi, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement. The people were detained as authorities searched six houses across Brussels as part of an existing investigation into Hadfi which had been opened earlier this year, according to a Reuters report. Hadfi had been known to have travelled to Syria - where he had been fighting as recently as July - and back again by Belgian authorities.
Another two people were also arrested in connection with the Paris attacks during three more raids in the Belgian capital. The operations took place in the communes of Jette, Uccle and Molenbeek, which has been under the spotlight since details emerged that it was a hub for the ringleader of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud as well as the two brothers involved in the terrorist assaults, Brahim and Salah Abdeslam.
The east Brussels commune of Molenbeek has gained a reputation as a "breeding ground for violence", according to mayor Francoise Schepmans. It has recently been reported as a jihadi haven having been the subject of anti-terror operations following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but many feel that is an unfair description.
In a crackdown on extremists based in Belgium, Prime Minister Charles Michel announced the introduction of new laws to imprison jihadists returning from Syria and close unregistered mosques. Michel also said that an additional €400m (£280.7m, $430m) would be spent on security measures to curb Islamist violence.
"Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, but places of worship cannot become places to spread jihadism," Michel said on 19 November.
French President Francois Hollande has said that the bloody assaults on Paris which included suicide bombings and shootings were arranged in Belgium. Meanwhile, a former senior French intelligence official has said that "the Belgians just aren't up to it", according to French media.
Michel has rejected criticism directed at the country's security services. "I don't accept the criticism seeking to disparage our security services, who do a difficult and tough job," he said. Michel added that the Saint-Denis raid in which Abaaoud was killed was due to a tip-off from Belgium.