Hostages safe after Paris standoff

AP and AFP

A man who holed up in a post office in a suburb northwest of Paris with two hostages on Friday surrendered and has been arrested, a police source said. Police said the hostage-taker had mental issues and no links to terror. ��There was no assault, the man gave himself up��, the source said, adding that the hostages were ��shocked but not injured��.

French, German and Belgian police arrested more than two dozen suspects in anti-terrorism raids Friday, as European authorities rushed to thwart more attacks by people with links to Islamic extremists in the Mideast.

Rob Wainwright, head of the police agency Europol, told The Associated Press that foiling terror attacks has become ��extremely difficult�� because Europe’s 2,500-5,000 radicalized Muslim extremists have little command structure and are increasingly sophisticated.

Belgian police raided an Islamist cell planning attacks against police on Friday, keeping the continent on alert one week after the Paris attacks. Two suspected jihadists were shot dead in a police raid in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers on Thursday night and prosecutors said 13 suspects had been detained across Belgium, with two more held in France. French police separately detained 12 people in the suburbs of Paris in connection with last week’s attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman, in which 17 people were killed. Hundreds of German police meanwhile raided alleged Islamist sites in Berlin, arresting two men suspected of being part of a group planning to carry out an attack in Syria. The raids highlighted fears about young Europeans travelling to fight with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Middle East before returning to carry out attacks on western targets. Police found Kalashnikov assault rifles, explosives, ammunition and communications equipment, along with police uniforms that could have been used for the terror plot, he said. Members of the group had recently returned from Syria, prosecutors said, but they said there still appeared to be no direct link to the Paris attacks. The European Commission stepped up security at its headquarters in Brussels as a ��precaution��, a spokeswoman said. Jewish schools in Brussels and the port city of Antwerp closed Friday.