NEW DELHI: As per a press conference held by Belgian prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt in Brussels on Thursday, two people have been killed in a "counter-terrorism" raid in Verviers in the eastern part of the European country. Belgium has also raised the security level to three -- the second highest possible level.

"The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised,” he said.

In Verviers, the prosecutors spokesperson, Thierry Werts, told reporters that in addition to killing two suspects, security forces had taken into custody a third man.

"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 suspects were reportedly part of a sleeper cell linked to the Islamic State and were plotting terror attacks on Belgian soil having recently returned from Syria. At the time of writing, searches were still being carried out in Verviers, Brussels, and surrounding towns including including Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Anderlecht and Schaerbeek.

Speaking on behalf of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, a spokesperson said that the security operation "shows the government's determination to fight those who want to spread terror.”

Further details are to be provided at a briefing on Friday.

An amateur video by Frédéric Hausman appears to show the operation in process.

The raids follow an earlier statement by Belgian investigators regarding a probe into whether an arms dealer sold weapons used in the Paris attacks, after Amedy Coulibaly -- who took over a dozen people hostage at a Kosher grocery store in Paris soon after gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices -- sold the man a car belonging to his partner Hayat Boumeddiene.

At the time of writing, there was no confirmation that the raids were linked to the above.

The raids come just over a week after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, where 17 people were killed. Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.

Much of Europe is on high-alert. In France itself, the attack on the Kosher grocery store happened soon after news broke that security forces had mounted a massive chase for the gunmen suspected to be involved in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

In Germany, police arrested a suspected Islamic State supporter who was recently in Syria after they raided his apartment in the state of Lower Saxony on Thursday.

According to a statement, the suspect -- identified as Ayub B -- was suspected of having joined Islamic State during a stay in Syria from May to August last year, where he received combat training. However, the statement added that at present there were no indications that the suspect had any concrete plans of an attack.