Monday 26 June 2017

European agencies hunting eight suspects linked to Brussels, Paris attacks

CCTV: The three caught on camera Photo: Belgian Federal Police/PA Wire
CCTV: The three caught on camera Photo: Belgian Federal Police/PA Wire
Three balloons in the colors of the Belgian flag fly as people mourn for the victims of the bombings at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels Photo: AP

Security forces across the continent are hunting for at least eight suspects believed to have assisted with the Islamist attacks in Paris and Brussels, a German newspaper has reported.

Citing security sources, Die Welt am Sonntag said the suspects, most of whom are French and Belgium citizens, are believed to be either in Syria or on the run in Europe.

Die Welt said the suspects had been in contact with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the presumed ringleader of the Paris attacks who was killed by French police in a shootout on Nov. 18, and Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect of the Paris attacks who was captured in Brussels earlier this month.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is involved in the manhunt, according to Die Welt. The BKA declined to comment.

The suicide bomb attacks targeting Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train on Tuesday killed 31 people, including three of the attackers, and injured hundreds more. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Over the last 24 hours four men have been charged with terrorist offences in the European city while Italian police have arrested an Algerian suspected of having produced false documents for militants connected to the attacks.

Three balloons in the colors of the Belgian flag fly as people mourn for the victims of the bombings at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels Photo: AP
Three balloons in the colors of the Belgian flag fly as people mourn for the victims of the bombings at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels Photo: AP

Belgian press agency Belga named the most recent man arrested as A. Abderrahmane who prosecutors had said on Saturday was being detained for a further 24 hours after being shot during a raid in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek.

It said he was charged in connection with a related raid in France this week that authorities say foiled an apparent attack plot.

With the investigation now spanning several countries, and increasing signs of links to the Paris attacks in November, Belgian authorities called off a planned "march against fear" in the jittery capital on Sunday to relieve pressure on the police.

After a series of raids and arrests in Belgium and Gemany since the attacks, Algerian Djamal Eddine Ouali, 40, was arrested by Italy's DIGOS anti-terrorism police in southern Italy, Italian media said on Saturday.

The Sky TG 24 television and other media reports said he was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Belgium for producing and procuring false documents to be used in illegal immigration.

His name was found in documents in a raid in an apartment near Brussels last October, including some documents with photos of some of the militants involved in the attacks in Paris and in Brussels and the aliases they used, the reports said.

Of the three men charged on Saturday, Belgian prosecutors named one as Faycal C. Belgian media identified him as Faycal Cheffou and said he was "the man in the hat", as he has become known, in last Tuesday's airport CCTV footage that showed three men pushing baggage trolleys bearing luggage.

The two others in the picture are believed to have blown themselves up.

Cheffou was charged with taking part in the activities of a terrorist group, and actual and attempted terrorist murder.

The other two charged on Saturday, Aboubakar A. and Rabah N., were accused of terrorist activities and membership of a terrorist group.

Rabah N. was wanted in connection with a related raid in France this week that authorities say foiled an attack plot.

Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur told Le Soir newspaper that Cheffou, who said he was a freelance journalist, was "dangerous" and that he had been detained a number of times at a park where he sought to encourage asylum seekers camped there to turn to militancy.

Reuters

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