Two more held in Belgium over Paris attacks

  • AFP, Brussels
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2016 01:29 IST
Police stand guard outside as officers investigate a residential building where arrested suspects linked to Paris attacks are thought to live. (Reuters File Photo)

Two men were detained for questioning in the troubled Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek during police raids over the past two days linked to the deadly Paris attacks, prosecutors said Thursday.

The investigating magistrate later ordered the release of one of them and ordered the other to reappear in court on Friday, the Belgian news agency reported.

“Both were arrested due to their possible ties with different suspects in this case,” the federal prosecutor’s office said, referring to the November 13 attacks when men armed with automatic weapons and suicide bombs killed 130 people and wounded many more across Paris.

Those detained were identified as Belgian national Zakaria J., who was born in 1986, and Moroccan national Mustafa E, who was born in 1981.

Belga said the former was ordered to reappear before a magistrate on Friday while the latter was released.

Neither weapons nor explosives were found in the raids Wednesday and Thursday in Molenbeek, the impoverished immigrant neighbourhood where a number of jihadists have stayed over the last two decades.

French President Francois Hollande has said that the Paris attacks were planned in Syria but prepared and organised in Belgium. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Last week the authorities announced that Belgian police have identified three safe houses used by key suspects including presumed ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Molenbeek resident who was killed in a French police raid days after the Paris attacks.

The premises include a flat in Charleroi, a town south of the capital Brussels where a major airport is located, a house in the rural village of Auvelais near the French border, and a flat in Brussels.

The Belgian authorities have formally charged 10 people in the case, including a number from Molenbeek.

Four suspects remain at large, including Salah Abdeslam who allegedly drove suicide bombers to the French national stadium outside Paris, as well as Mohamed Abrini, suspected of having helped scout out the attack sites. Both are from Molenbeek.

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