Belgium terror suspect to be held for a month

2015-11-25 19:58
Belgian soldiers and Belgian police patrol a shopping street in the centre of Brussels. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert, AP)

Belgian soldiers and Belgian police patrol a shopping street in the centre of Brussels. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert, AP)

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Brussels - A man arrested in Belgium in relation to the November 13 attacks in Paris will be kept in detention for a month, prosecutors said on Wednesday, while normal life gradually resumed in Brussels, despite a heightened terrorism threat.

Many of the perpetrators involved in the Paris killings had ties to the Belgian capital and there are suspicions that one at-large suspect, Salah Abdeslam, may be hiding out in Belgium. Brussels is under top security alert as authorities fear a possible attack there.

Belgium has arrested five suspects, including a 39-year-old Moroccan living in Brussels, identified as Lazez A. Two firearms and blood traces were found in his car, prosecutors said.

He is suspected of having transported Abdeslam after the Paris attacks, according to Belga news agency - a charge he denies, according to his defence lawyers.

"One of the two arms found is an alarm gun and the other does not correspond either to what you would expect to find with a terrorist," lawyer Christine Callewaert said on Wednesday, Belga reported.

"The blood does not belong to Salah," added the second lawyer, Sokol Vljahen, stating that his client only knew Abdeslam and his brother Brahim - who blew himself up in a Paris restaurant on November 13 - by sight.

Two other detainees - including another man who is thought to transported Abdeslam by car after he was brought back to Brussels - are to be brought before a judge on Friday, the prosecution said.

A decision will be taken on Friday regarding the detention of two other men, including one arrested on Tuesday, the prosecution said in a statement.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told US broadcaster ABC News that the authorities are still looking for about 10 individuals who could launch attacks, using heavy weapons and "suicide bombs", similar to the ones that killed 130 people in Paris.

Regular life returns

Despite the threat, regular life began to resume in Brussels on Wednesday as schools reopened and underground train services partially resumed.

The Belgian capital has been under security alert level 4 since Saturday, signalling a serious and imminent threat. The alert has been extended until November 30, but the government has been keen to reduce disruptions.

Thirty-five of Brussels' 69 metro stations were reopened at 06:00 (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday, the city's public transport authority said. Many underground lines were operating with restrictions, however.

Schools and creches also opened again on Wednesday, with additional security in place.

Two hundred military personnel were dispatched to guard the public transport system and 300 police officers were stationed around schools, RTBF broadcaster reported.

Belgian and French police are still looking for Abdeslam. Belgium also issued an international arrest warrant on Tuesday for another suspect.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the European Parliament called for the establishment of an EU-wide blacklist of jihadists and jihadist terror suspects to help counter radicalisation.

The European Union's legislature also proposed judicial action and possible detention for foreign fighters - Europeans who join militant extremist groups in Syria or Iraq and return radicalised - in a non-binding resolution approved by its plenary in Strasbourg.

The suspects in the Paris attacks include French and Belgian citizens who had spent time in Syria.

Last week, Belgium set up a task force to tackle the radicalisation of foreigners living in the country, State Secretary Theo Francken told the federal parliament.

Read more on:    belgium  |  france  |  paris under attack

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