One of the men suspected of having taken part in the Paris attacks that killed 130 people last year was captured during a raid Friday in Belgium.
Salah Abdeslam is suspected of having driven three suicide bombers to the Stade de France. His brother Ibrahim detonated his own suicide vest outside a cafe. Another suicide vest was discovered in a trash can and investigators believe Salah Abdeslam may have been the person who dumped it there before returning by car to Belgium.
Some suspected Abdeslam had already fled the country to Syria but after a dramatic shoot out in the suburbs of Brussels Tuesday (which I wrote about here) investigators found a lead suggesting he was still hiding out in Belgium. CNN reports:
Earlier Friday, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office revealed that the 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam’s fingerprints and DNA were found in a Brussels apartment raided three days earlier. One person was killed and two people escaped that operation, according to authorities.
The man killed by a special forces sniper was Mohamed Belkaid, an Algerian who used the name Samir Bouzid, and who is believed to have directed the Paris attackers via calls from Belgium, according to the prosecutor’s office.
As I mentioned yesterday, the French and Belgian police who raided the Brussels apartment Tuesday believed it was empty. They were reportedly very surprised when the door opened and one or more people inside began firing at them. Police participating in the raid were injured before they could retreat to safety but none of the injuries were life threatening. Eventually, a police sniper shot Belkaid when he came to a window to fire a rifle at police.
Two other men in the apartment with Belkaid managed to escape. Police have not confirmed it yet but there are some reports claiming Abdeslam was one of the men who got away. According to France 2, authorities got a tip from someone that Abdeslam was in the apartment raided Friday. The Telegraph reports that Abdeslam was shot in the knee during the raid. Two other suspects were also arrested.
(Note: Front page photo was broadcast by French television station RTL and claims to show the moment Abdeslam was arrested.)