A fugitive suspected to have played a key role in the November 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, has been arrested by authorities in Brussels, Theo Francken, Belgium’s Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, confirmed on Twitter.
Reporters and witnesses at the scene say they have heard two powerful explosions, and more gunfire, as the police operation continues.
Local media report that at least two people are barricaded inside the house.
“We got him,” Theo Francken tweeted about Abdeslam’s arrest. According to the minister, the suspect was injured in the leg during the raid.
At least three arrests were made, according to local press.
Francoise Schepmans, the mayor of the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, where the raid took place, also said two people had been injured in the operation.
Police are still surrounding Four Winds street, located just around the corner from Delaunoystraat, where Abdeslam is thought to have slipped away three days after the Paris attacks.
According to HLN, police could be heard shouting “Come out with your hands up in the air” during the raid.
Smoke was seen on the street, and is believed to be from a stun grenade, according to HLN.
The raid is taking place just 10 kilometers from the EU-Turkey summit venue.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel rushed out of the summit following the news, and is expected to be joined at Belgian government offices by Interior Minister Jan Jambon, RTBF said.
It comes just two days after it was revealed that authorities found an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) flag at the home of an Algerian-born gunman shot in a Brussels raid earlier this week.
That man was identified on Friday as Mohamed Belkaid, who used the name Samir Bouzid, RTBF news reported. He is believed to have been responsible for plotting the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.
He had been on French and Belgian wanted lists since December, when evidence emerged of him making a cash transfer from Brussels to a woman involved in the attacks.
RTBF described the man as an accomplice of Abdeslam. The news outlet quoted an anonymous source as saying it was “more than likely” that Abdeslam fled the scene of the Tuesday raid, as his fingerprints were found at the apartment.
Abdeslam fled Paris after the November terro attacks that killed 130 people at a theater, the national stadium and cafes. Most of the attackers died that night, Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, who blew himself up, among them. The 26-year-old suspect is said to have been born in Brussels.
- EU Bullies 7 countries on car pollution, wants more taxes and regulations
- Germany Issues Ultimatum to Greece: Reform or Leave EU
- EU Official's daughter raped & murdered by Afghan migrant, Father asks for Donations to Bangladesh
- 6 hostages released after Paris siege
- Police Operation Underway in France as Armed Man Storms Into Retirement Home