Saturday 1 October 2016

Belgian police detain five more people following early morning raids as manhunt for Salah Abdeslam continues

Belgium authorities arrest 16 people in anti-terror operations

Gregory Walton, and Rory Mulholland, Brussels

Published 23/11/2015 | 07:52

Belgian police, inset suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam
Belgian police, inset suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam
Belgian special police forces take part in an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian special police forces attend an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian special police forces attend an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian soldiers patrol in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris

Belgium has detained five more people following raids on Monday morning in the Brussels and Liege regions as it searches the country's links to the Paris attacks, federal prosecutors said.

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The federal prosecutors' office said it had carried out five raids in the Brussels area and two around the eastern city of Liege.

It detained 16 people in raids in Brussels and Charleroi on Sunday evening. A sum of €26,000 was seized during one of the searches. All other items seized during house searches were being examined, the prosecutors said.

They also said that an incident on Sunday evening near Liege that involved a BMW car failing to stop for a routine check was not related to the Paris attacks investigation.

Salah Abdeslam
Salah Abdeslam

"The vehicle was identified. Further enquiries showed that there is no link at all with the ongoing operation," the prosecutors said.

Belgian police arrested 16 more people in late-night raids searching for those behind the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, but failed to find a prime suspect as the government locked down the capital for a third day on Monday.

Belgian special police forces take part in an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian special police forces take part in an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris

Salah Abdelslam, Europe's most wanted man, was once again reportedly spotted by police but managed to escape capture and was thought to be heading towards the German border in a BMW.

Belgian federal prosecutors admitted in a midnight press conference that a massive police and army operation launched across the nation on Sunday evening had failed to catch the Islamist accused of participating in the Paris attacks.

Belgian soldiers patrol in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian soldiers patrol in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris

Salah was spotted by Belgian police near the city of Liege at about 7.30pm on Sunday evening but managed to evade officers, Dernier Heure reported.

The man then headed in the direction of Germany on the E40 motorway and again avoided a police checkpoint set up to intercept him.

Belgian special police forces attend an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris
Belgian special police forces attend an operation in the neighborhood of Molenbeek, in Brussels, Belgium, November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris

Prosecutors confirmed only that Abdelsam was not among the 16 people arrested in 19 raids on Sunday and refused to take questions about his whereabouts.

The raids took place on Sunday after the Belgian Prime Minister reiterated that there was an 'imminent and serious' threat of a terrorist attack.

Brussels remained in lockdown with a vast security presence in the city centre and metro services suspended into Monday morning.

The morning after the Friday 13 attacks, Abdelslam was stopped by French police near the Belgian border in a car with two other men but was allowed to proceed because police did not yet know of his alleged involvement in the Paris massacre.

He has since reportedly been spotted several times at locations across the Belgian capital.

Brussels police revealed that during Sunday's operations they shot at a car that approached a roadblock in the Molenbeek area of the city.

The car escaped but police later found it with a wounded individual inside, according to Eric Van der Sypt, federal magistrate.

Brussels remains in the grip of its highest terror alert for a third straight day.

The wanted poster for Salah Abdeslam, wanted in connection with the terror attacks in Paris at a midnight news conference, Eric Van Der Sypt, federal prosecutor, said 19 raids were carried out in Molenbeek and other boroughs of Brussels and three raids were carried out in other cities.

"We have to stress that no firearms or explosives were discovered ... during the raids," he said." Certain elements in the investigation made Sunday's intervention necessary. The investigation will in any case be relentlessly continued."

Brussels police revealed that during Sunday's operations they shot at a car that approached a roadblock in the Molenbeek area of the city.

The car escaped but police later found it with a wounded individual inside, according to Eric Van der Sypt, federal magistrate.

The operation came shortly after the Belgian prime minister announced that the Brussels metro would remain closed for a third day and that the city's schools would stay shut on Monday.

Telegraph.co.uk

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