Friday, 18 March 2016

Brussels raids: Paris attack suspect Abdeslam arrested


  • 18 March 2016
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  • From the sectionEurope
Media captionFootage has emerged of one of the arrests from the Molenbeek raids
Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, on the run since November, has been wounded and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels.
Belgian prosecutors said another man arrested, Monir Ahmed Al Hadj, was on a wanted list.
Three members of a family accused of harbouring Abdeslam have also been detained.
French President Francois Hollande said he expected Abdeslam to be extradited to France "as rapidly as possible".
The raid in the district of Molenbeek came after Abdeslam's fingerprints were found in a flat in another Brussels district, which was raided on Tuesday.
Media captionExplosion heard during live news report
Abdeslam, who has been at large since the attacks on 13 November, was wounded in the leg as police moved in. Dramatic footage showed him being bundled into a police car after a volley of gunfire.
One of Europe's most wanted men, Abdeslam is a key suspect in the jihadist attacks in Paris in which 130 people died.
Prosecutors said the second wanted man arrested in Molenbeek, Monir Ahmed Al Hadj, was believed to have travelled last October with Abdeslam to Germany, where his fingerprints were taken during an identity check.
Photo of Salah Abdeslam issued by French policeImage copyrightAP
The moment Salah Abdeslam is bundled into a police car following his captureImage copyrightEVN
Image captionThe moment Salah Abdeslam is bundled into a police car following his capture
The French president said Abdeslam's arrest was an "important moment" but added that it was not the "final conclusion".
"We must catch all those who allowed, organised or facilitated these attacks and we realise that they are a lot more numerous than we thought earlier and had identified," he said.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the raid had come after "intense" detective work and said it was a "very important result in the battle for democracy".

Possible accomplices

The raid in Molenbeek followed the discovery of Abdeslam's fingerprints in a flat in the southern Forest suburb of Brussels that was raided on Tuesday, although prosecutors said the prints could not be dated.
One man - identified as Algerian national Mohamed Belkaid and linked to the Paris attacks - was shot dead in Tuesday's raid.
Officials said at the time they believed as many as two other suspects may have escaped.
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Belgian police take part in a raid in Molenbeek, Brussels. Photo: 18 March 2016Image copyrightReuters
Image captionThe raid in Molenbeek came a few days after police targeted the Brussels suburb of Forest
The man killed on Tuesday, Belkaid, is believed to have used a false ID in the name of Samir Bouzid, while crossing the border between Austria and Hungary with Abdeslam and another man last September, the Belgian prosecutor's office said.
The false ID was also used four days after the Paris attacks at a Western Union office in Brussels to transfer money to Hasna Aitboulahcen, who Belgian prosecutors say was the niece of the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks,Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
Both Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen died during a police raid on a flat in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. days after the Paris attacks.
Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national born in Brussels, had lived in Molenbeek before the Paris attacks.
He is believed to have returned to Belgium immediately after the attacks, in which his brother Brahim blew himself up.
In January, police said they may have found a bomb factory in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels used as a hideout by Abdeslam.
Police found traces of explosives, three handmade belts and a fingerprint of the suspect.

Manhunt

Abdeslam has been the subject of a massive manhunt since the attacks, claimed by militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.
Most of the suspects either died during the attacks or were killed in subsequent police raids.
Parts of Brussels were sealed off for days after the Paris massacre amid fears of a major incident.
A number of suspected attackers lived in the Belgian capital, and police have carried out a series of raids.
graphic of Paris attackers

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