Wednesday 21 March 2018

Paris attacks probe: Five questioned in Brussels then released

The raids in Brussels were linked to the Islamic State attacks on Paris last month
The raids in Brussels were linked to the Islamic State attacks on Paris last month

Belgian authorities have questioned and released five people who were detained after searches related to the Paris attacks, prosecutors said.

Two people were taken in for questioning following a house search on Monday in Brussels, the prosecutor's office said. On Sunday evening, a building in central Brussels was searched on orders from an anti-terrorism judge, and two brothers and a friend were detained.

The prosecutor's office, without giving details, said an analysis of phone records led to Sunday's search. Authorities said they found no weapons or explosives at either residence, and did not identify those detained.

After a "thorough interrogation" by federal judicial police, the investigating judge ordered the release of all five, the prosecutor's office said. Eight other people detained earlier in Belgium in connection with the November 13 attacks in the French capital remain in custody.

"The investigation will continue unabated," a statement from the prosecutor's office said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead. A European Union summit last week resolved to continue the EU's effort against violent extremism, and called for wide-ranging measures including systematic checks on people crossing Europe's external frontiers.

In France, people travelling on high-speed trains from France to Belgium and the Netherlands now must pass through new metal detectors.

The open French-Belgian border has been under special scrutiny since the attacks by extremists with ties in both countries. In August, a Paris-bound Thalys train was the scene of a thwarted attack when passengers subdued an Islamic extremist gunman who had boarded in Brussels.

There are already security checks on high-speed trains from France to Britain. There are no metal detectors for slow trains between France and Belgium, or on routes from France to other neighbouring countries.

Press Association

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