Two more held in Belgium over Paris attacks: Prosecutors

AFP , Thursday 21 Jan 2016

File Photo: A Belgian police van is pictured in a street called "Rue du Fort" in Charleroi, Belgium, January 13, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

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

The investigating magistrate will decide later Thursday whether there is enough evidence to continue holding the pair or release them, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"Both were arrested due to their possible ties with different suspects in this case," it 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.

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

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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