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Sixth person arrested in Brussels bombing probe: Belgian minister

world Updated: Apr 09, 2016 19:41 IST
Brussels bombings

A police officer talks with a resident on the Avenue des Casernes in Etterbeek, Brussels, during a police action on April 9, 2016.(AFP)

Belgian authorities arrested a sixth person late on Friday during raids in connection with the suicide attacks in Brussels which killed 32 victims on March 22, Belgium’s justice minister said.

Koen Geens said the man was a former Syria fighter who had just finished a prison sentence.

“He was under electronic supervision and his sentence ended on March 15,” Geens told Reuters on the sidelines of a government press conference on Saturday.

The Belgian prosecutor had said Friday that five people had been arrested but a spokesman confirmed Saturday that a sixth was being held.

The raids on Friday had netted top Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini.

His arrest in the gritty Brussels neighbourhood of Anderlecht marked an important step forward in the investigation into the November 13 Paris attacks in which 130 died and the March 22 attacks which left 32 dead in Brussels.

Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State jihadi group based in Iraq and Syria.

Abrini, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, was seen at a petrol station north of Paris two days before the attacks with Salah Abdeslam, who drove one of the vehicles used in the November 13 attacks.

Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim blew himself up in Paris, fled back to Brussels immediately afterwards and was finally captured March 18 in the capital, just round the corner from his family’s home in the Molenbeek district.

He is now awaiting extradition to France.

Belgian investigators are also trying to establish if Abrini is the third man seen at Brussels airport with the two suicide bombers.

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