November 13, 2019

Brussels attacks: arrests made in Paris and Belgium police raids – as it happened

brussels attacks

1.19am GMT

What we know so far

Belgium

  • Six people have been arrested in a series of raids across Brussels on Thursday night.
  • The arrests are connected to investigations into Tuesday’s suicide bombings in Brussels, a statement from the federal prosecutors’ office said.
  • Three of the arrests were made directly outside the prosecutor’s office in the centre of Brussels.
  • Two others were arrested elsewhere in the territory of the Belgian capital, and one person was arrested in the peripheral commune of Jette.
  • A “loud bang” was heard by residents of the north-eastern suburb of Schaerbeek, where police and soldiers are carrying out a separate raid. No arrests have been made here.
  • A decision on charging the suspects will be made on Friday.
  • None of those arrested has been named, but police have been seeking two men – one from the airport and one from the metro – who it is thought might have escaped the blasts.

France

  • Police raids are also continuing in the Argenteuil suburb of Paris, where earlier on Thursday a French national in the “advanced stages” of a plot to attack the country was arrested.
  • Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said:

At this stage, there is no tangible evidence that links this plot to the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

  • Unconfirmed reports in French media said the man had previously been sentenced in Belgium for belonging to a jihadist network.

Updated at 1.20am GMT

1.05am GMT

While we don’t yet have confirmation of the names of those arrested in Belgium and France on Thursday – or whether they are linked – more information has been pieced together about the web that binds those known to have been involved in terror attacks in Paris in November and Brussels this week.

Unaccounted for in this list is Mohamed Abrini, a childhood friend of the surviving Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam.

Abrini travelled with the attackers to Paris and has been named by French investigators as a suspect. He is on the run from police.

12.44am GMT

Images are coming in now of the ongoing police raids in Schaerbeek, the north-east Brussels suburb that was also the focus of an operation on Tuesday in the immediate wake of the bombings.

Police officers take part in an operation in Schaerbeek
Police officers take part in an operation in Schaerbeek
Police officers take part in an operation in Schaerbeek Photograph: Nicolas Maeterlinck/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 12.56am GMT

12.29am GMT

Bomb squads are on site at the raid in Argenteuil, on the northern outskirts of Paris.

Witnesses have told the Associated Press that the immediate area has been locked down, and residents were unable to return home for hours after the raid began.

A 23-year-old resident of the neighbourhood described seeing heavily masked and armed officers surround the entrance to an apartment building before entering and emerging with the suspect, his head covered:

Police told us to get out of the way, it’s dangerous.

We are all shocked. We’re asking us how this could have happened.

Police officers block a street in Argenteuil.
Police officers block a street in Argenteuil. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

12.24am GMT

Special units of the Belgian federal police have carried out the raids in central Brussels, Schaerbeek and Jette, along with police helicopters.

In Schaerbeek, La Libre reports, the army assisted the police operation.

12.14am GMT

We also at this stage do not know the identity of the man arrested in the Argenteuil suburb of Paris on Thursday evening.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said the man was French and belonged to a terrorist network, but said he could not confirm if he was linked to the attacks in Brussels.

Citing French radio station France Info, Reuters has reported that the man had previously been sentenced in Belgium for belonging to a jihadist network.

12.04am GMT

Reports from Schaerbeek say police have sealed off a sizeable area of the neighbourhood. But a wider cordon has been reduced and the focus of the raid – which has been going on for at least three hours – now appears to be one building in the north-east Brussels suburb.

11.49pm GMT

Authorities have not released the names of any of those arrested. But police had been searching since Tuesday for a man seen with the two suicide bombers at Zaventem airport, along with others potentially implicated in the planning of the attacks.

The third man at the airport

Police continue to search for a man seen in CCTV images wearing a hat, sunglasses and light-coloured coat. He is believed to have fled the airport after his suitcase bomb failed to detonate.

Man at the airport
Police are hunting a man seen with the bombers at the airport. Photograph: Federal Police/PA

The ‘second metro bomber’

French newspaper Le Monde and Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported earlier on Thursday that a second man, carrying a large bag, was seen on CCTV in the Brussels metro with Khalid el-Bakraoui – a potential second accomplice. It was not clear whether the man died in the blast or was being sought by police.

11.43pm GMT

At this stage, it is unclear whether the arrest and ongoing raids in France are linked to the operation in Brussels.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said:

At this stage, there is no tangible evidence that links this plot to the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Cazeneuve said the arrested suspect was of French nationality and belonged to a terrorist network:

These searches follow an arrest by the [French intelligence agency] on Thursday morning that allowed us to stop a planned bombing in France that was at an advanced stage.

11.33pm GMT

As more information emerges, it appears that although raids are ongoing in Schaerbeek, the Brussels suburb that was the site of a huge police operation earlier this week, none of the six arrests have been made at that location.

Le Soir reports that a “loud bang” was heard by residents of Schaerbeek around 9.45pm.

Updated at 11.35pm GMT

11.29pm GMT

Police in Brussels have made six arrests following Tuesday’s twin airport and metro suicide bombings, after a day on which two Belgian government ministers offered to resign amid mounting criticism of the country’s failure to foil the attacks.

With prosecutors releasing more evidence that the attacks were carried out by the same Islamic State network responsible for November’s carnage in Paris and two suspects still believed to be on the run, several police raids were carried out across Brussels on Thursday evening.

The operation involving Swat teams and armoured cars with helicopter support began soon after 9pm, the state broadcaster, RTBF, said, citing police sources as saying it targeted “people suspected of taking part in the attacks” that killed at least 31 people and injured 300.

Prosecutors confirmed six unidentified people were arrested, including three in a car.

11.26pm GMT

Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the federal prosecutors, said three of the arrests were made “outside our door, the federal prosecutor’s office”.

The offices are located in the centre of Brussels, next to the Palace of Justice.

Two other people were arrested elsewhere in the territory of the Belgian capital, and one person was arrested in the peripheral commune of Jette.

Updated at 11.31pm GMT

11.18pm GMT

Police raids are also continuing in the Argenteuil suburb of Paris, where earlier on Thursday a French national in the “advanced stages” of a plot to attack the country was arrested.

Security forces locked down the area in north-west Paris during a major search, said Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister.

A building was evacuated and sniffer dogs and anti-mine experts are at the scene to search for explosives.

11.12pm GMT

A few more details are emerging of the arrests, via a statement from the federal prosecutors’ office.

  • Six people have been detained by Belgian police .
  • The arrests are connected to investigations into Tuesday’s suicide bombings in Brussels.
  • The arrests were made during police searches in the Brussels boroughs of Schaerbeek in the north and Jette in the west, as well as in the centre of Brussels.
  • A decision on charging the suspects will be made on Friday.

We do not yet know if any of the people arrested are the two men – one from the airport and one from the metro – who it is thought might have escaped the blasts.

11.07pm GMT

Opening summary

There are reports from Brussels – where it is midnight as Thursday tips into Friday – that several arrests have been made in police raids linked to the investigation into this week’s terror attacks on the Belgian capital.

Details are still sketchy but reports from reporters on the scene say police helicopters are in evidence over the city.

We will bring you the latest on this developing story as it happens.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

 


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Brussels attacks: arrests made in Paris and Belgium police raids – as it happened” was written by Claire Phipps, for theguardian.com on Friday 25th March 2016 01.20 UTC

Share
Source: