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Belgium police arrest Paris attacks suspects

January 21, 2016

Police have detained two men during raids in Brussels' Molenbeek area. Prosecutors have accused them of having links to the November attacks in Paris, where 130 were killed.

Belgien Sicherheitsmaßnahmen in Brüssel
Image: Reuters/Y. Herman

Prosecutors said police arrested two men, identified as Belgian national Zakaria J. and Moroccan national Mustafa E., in Brussels' Molenbeek area.

"Both were arrested due to their possible ties with different suspects in this case," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement. "The investigating judge will decide later today upon their possible further detention," the statement added.

No explosives or weapons were found in the raids, which were conducted on Wednesday.

Zakaria J., born in 1986, and Moroccan national Mustafa E., born in 1981, were taken into custody during house searches carried out by the Belgian police.

Last week, Belgian authorities said they had identified three safe houses used by key suspects, including Abdelhamid Abaoud, who was killed in a French police raid shortly after the attacks in Paris.

The houses included a flat in Charleroi (a town south of Brussels), a house in Auvelais on the French border, and a flat in Brussels.

Ten suspects have been charged in connection with the Paris attacks and four still remain at large, including Salah Abdeslam, who allegedly drove the attackers to the football stadium in Paris where part of the attacks were carried out. Mohammed Abrini, a suspect who helped scout the attack targets, is also missing.

A Visit to the 'Jihadist Stronghold'

Both were residents of Molenbeek, an impoverished immigrant neighborhood of Brussels, where a number of jihadists are reported to have lived in the last two decades.

Security forces closed down on Molenbeek after jihadists struck a football stadium and a concert hall in Paris on November 13 last year, killing 130 people. French President Francois Hollande said the attacks were planned in Syria, but organized in Belgium.

mg/mz (AFP, dpa)