The Latest: 2 arrested in Brussels checked earlier by police

AP News
Posted: Mar 18, 2016 7:03 PM
The Latest: 2 arrested in Brussels checked earlier by police

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on developments in Brussels, where officials say Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam has been captured (all times local):

12:01 a.m.

The top suspect in the Paris attacks and a man arrested with him in Brussels had been checked by police and fingerprinted in Germany in October.

Belgian prosecutors said that suspect Salah Abdeslam and the other man were stopped in Ulm, Germany on Oct. 3.

On Tuesday, papers issued to the mystery man were discovered in the same apartment raided by police in the Forest area of Brussels where Abdeslam's fingerprints were found.

There was a false Syrian passport in the name of Monir Ahmed Alaaj and a fake Belgian identity card under the name of Amine Choukri, prosecutors told a Friday night news conference.

The man's prints were also found in a residence in Auvelais south of Brussels used by the Paris attackers, prosecutors said.

"It's a person whose true identify we don't know," Thierry Werts, spokesman for the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office, said. "What we have is false documents in two names."

The man was slightly injured while being arrested and, like Abdeslam, was taken to a hospital for treatment, prosecutors said.


11:45 p.m.

Relief resonated in a Paris cafe targeted in Islamic extremist attacks last year after a top suspect was arrested in Brussels.

Julien Legrand, a 26-year-old Parisian having a drink in front of Le Carillon, said, "It is a relief. I hope he will be judged for what he did, that he will give explanations and that secret services will be helped (in that way) to dismantle other events."

With him was Anthony Leva, 28, who said captured fugitive Salah Abdeslam was among many others. "Maybe at this moment some others are preparing another."

Neighborhood resident Emeline Delaunay, 31, said, "We were traumatized and shocked by what happened here ... the fact that that guy is arrested, we want him to pay for all lives that he took and clearly, this is a relief."


11:10 p.m.

The lawyer for a security guard who stopped a suicide bomber from entering the French national stadium in Paris on Nov. 13 says her client called from the hospital when he heard Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam had been arrested.

Lawyer Samia Maktouf represents several family members of victims and survivors including security guard Omar Dmougui. The bomber he stopped blew himself up, and Dmougui was injured.

Maktouf said Dmougui told her, "He has been arrested, he has been arrested! I am happy! I hope they will stop the others now."

Authorities say three suicide bombers had intended to attack the Stade de France, but they were unable to get in and killed just one bystander when they detonated their vests nearby. In all, 130 people died in the attacks that targeted the stadium, cafes and a concert hall.


10:55 p.m.

A witness to the raid that captured Europe's No. 1 fugitive described hearing gunshots and police repeatedly shouting over a loudspeaker to suspects holed up inside a Brussels apartment building.

Fatiha Hrika is a 39-year-old child care worker who lives a few doors down from where the raid targeting Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam took place.

She says they sealed off the street and the neighborhood. Then police with a loudspeaker began shouting: "'Rue des Quatre Vents, number 79, come out with your hands up!'"

After shots were fired, she said, "they piled in. We heard noises all around. And that's when they pulled out the Salah (guy.) They put him to the ground."

She described seeing him put into an ambulance followed by a SWAT team.


10:30 p.m.

A lawyer for several survivors and relatives of victims of the Paris attacks is urging the immediate extradition of top suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Abdeslam was detained in Brussels on Friday after four months on the run.

Lawyer Samia Maktouf tells The Associated Press that Abdeslam "committed his crimes on French soil" and must answer for his role in the Nov. 13 attacks.

She says extradition will depend on Abdeslam's condition, after he was wounded in the leg during the police operation, but expressed hope it would happen soon.

She says clients are relieved by Abdeslam's arrest, but it is a relief mingled with bitterness.


9:50 p.m.

The White House says President Obama has been briefed on the arrest of the top fugitive in the Paris attacks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington on Friday that Obama was informed by his counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco.

He said U.S. officials have been in close touch with French and Belgium officials "as they have conducted investigations into the attacks and as they've taken steps to try to safeguard their country."

Officials say fugitive Salah Abdeslam was detained and wounded in an ongoing police operation in Brussels on Friday.

The White House said in a statement that Obama spoke with the leaders of Belgium and France and congratulated them on the arrest.


9:40 p.m.

A spokesman for the Belgium federal prosecutor's office says four people have been detained along with Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam, including three members of a family that sheltered him.

Spokesman Thierry Werts says Abdeslam and another suspect had minor injuries in the raid that led to their capture. Werts did not say how the three members of the family accused of sheltering Abdeslam knew him.

Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt says the investigation is continuing day and night.

Van der Sypt says Abdeslam did not immediately surrender but things moved very fast. He says Abdeslam was not armed but did not immediately obey orders. He was shot in the leg.


9:05 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says more people were involved in the November plot to attack Paris than authorities initially thought.

Hollande says authorities need to detain everyone who in any way allowed, organized or facilitated the attacks. He says such people are much more numerous than anyone could have imagined.

Hollande spoke after the arrest of fugitive Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who has been on the run since the attacks. He and two others were captured Friday in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels.


9 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says France will seek the extradition of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam and believes Belgium will respond as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He says it's important that there will be arrests that will allow justice to take its course.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says police faced armed resistance during a raid that captured Abdeslam and two other suspects Friday. Hollande says the operation was very dangerous and took exceptional courage. He says the threat level everywhere in Belgium and France remains high.


8:45 p.m.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says three suspects have been detained in a raid in Brussels, including fugitive Salah Abdeslam.

Michel says it is a success in the "fight against terrorism." He says security forces captured Abdeslam and the two others.

French President Francois Hollande says Abdeslam has been formally identified. He congratulated the Belgian government for an operation that lasted several weeks and said the investigation is not over and more arrests will come.

Authorities say Abdeslam was among several attackers who targeted cafes, a rock concert and a stadium in Paris' deadliest attacks in decades, which killed 130 people.


7:35 p.m.

Officials are taking to Twitter to mark the capture of Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam in Brussels.

Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, tweeted, "Congratulations to Belgium authorities on capture of ISIL terrorist Saleh Abdeslam. We will never forget his and all ISIL victims."

In Belgium, migration state secretary Theo Francken tweeted, "We have him."


7:25 p.m.

Two explosions have been heard in a Brussels neighborhood where a Paris attacks fugitive was captured and police were looking for another person.

The deputy mayor of the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek earlier told The Associated Press police were still searching for one person who is holed up in a house.

French television showed images of police dragging a man with a white hooded sweatshirt into an unmarked police car.

Earlier in the day, police captured Salah Abdeslam, who has been on the run for four months since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Molenbeek has issued an emergency plan to give shelter to people who cannot go home because of police operations.


7 p.m.:

The deputy mayor of the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek says he's received confirmation from the Belgian federal prosecutor's office that Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam has been shot in the leg and detained.

Ahmed El Khannouss tells The Associated Press that Abdeslam was hurt and police have taken him away. He says police are still searching for one person who is holed up in a house.

Abdeslam has been on the run since the November attacks that killed 130 people. Molenbeek is home to several people involved in the attacks.

El Khannouss told i-Tele television earlier that there are two schools a few dozen meters (yards) from the ongoing police operation, and authorities have taken measures to secure them and residents.

Helmeted police with riot shields have cordoned off the area.


6:20 p.m.:

Two French police officials have told The Associated Press that Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from Islamic extremist attacks in Paris in November, has been arrested in Belgium's capital after four months at large.

They said he was arrested Friday in a major police operation in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. Both officials are in contact with people involved in the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing operation.

Abdeslam was among several attackers who targeted cafes, a rock concert and a stadium in Paris' deadliest attacks in decades, which killed 130 people.

— By Associated Press Writer Lori Hinnant


5:45 p.m.:

French President Francois Hollande says an important police operation is underway in a Brussels neighborhood in connection with the November Islamic extremist attacks in Paris.

Hollande told reporters in Brussels on Friday that he would not give details on the "operation that is under way."

Hollande confirmed that the person being sought was linked to the Paris attacks but that any speculation over the fate of the individual would run counter to efforts "to stop or neutralize this individual."

Molenbeek Mayor Francoise Schepmans confirmed two people injured in the operation, which she said are continuing, but that she couldn't confirm Belgian media reports Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from the Paris attacks, was one of two people hurt.


5:30 p.m.:

Police have descended in force to search a residence in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, and Belgian media are reporting gunshots have been fired.

RTBF French-language TV reported late Friday afternoon that two people had been wounded.

The raids come after Belgian authorities said that fingerprints in an apartment raided earlier this week in another Brussels neighborhood belonged to the main fugitive from the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam.

As events unfolded, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel rushed out of a European Union summit, and was expected to be joined at Belgian government offices by Interior Minister Jan Jambon, RTBF said.


This story has been corrected to show that the Molenbeek mayor's first name is Francoise, not Francois.