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france 24 Europe

Paris attacks fugitive's fingerprints found in raided Brussels apartment

© Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP | Abdeslam's picture (left) on a police laptop at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport on December 3, 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-18

Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam's fingerprints were found in a house raided in Brussels earlier this week, Belgian prosecutors said on Friday.

"We can confirm that fingerprints of Salah Abdeslam were found in the apartment in [the Brussels district of] Forest," spokesman for federal prosecutors Eric Van Der Sypt told AFP, refusing to add further details.

Belgium's Belga news agency also quoted the prosecutor's office as saying they had found fingerprints of Abdeslam in the apartment police raided in the suburban borough of Forest on Tuesday, while other media said DNA was also found.

Some media outlets were more cautious on the implications of the find, saying it demonstrated that the 26-year-old Brussels-born Frenchman may have visited the apartment at some stage.

Abdeslam's elder brother was among the suicide bombers who killed themselves in Paris during a shooting rampage in which 130 people died. The younger Abdeslam was driven back to Brussels from Paris hours later.

The prosecutor also said that an Algerian killed in a shootout at the Brussels house on Tuesday was probably the man sought under an assumed name for plotting November’s Islamist attacks in Paris.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the man known as Samir Bouzid, who was on a wanted list, was probably Mohamed Belkaid, the Algerian killed on Tuesday.

“Bouzid” has been on French and Belgian wanted lists since December, when evidence emerged of him making a cash transfer from Brussels to a woman killed with other suspects in Paris five days after the attacks.

Belgian authorities are holding 10 people suspected of involvement with him, but there has been no report of the fugitive himself being sighted.

On Tuesday, six Belgian and French police officers arrived to search the flat and came under automatic fire through a door from at least two people barricaded inside. Four officers, one of them a Frenchwoman, were wounded, none very seriously.

Ministers said the police visit to the apartment had not been expected to provide much new evidence and that the presence of French officers did not imply a major break in the case.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said he was holding the state of alert steady after a meeting of security and intelligence chiefs in Belgium's national security council.

Brussels, headquarters of the European Union as well as Western military alliance NATO, was entirely locked down for days shortly after the Paris attacks because of fears of a major incident there. The city has maintained a high state of security alert since then, with military patrols a regular occurrence.

Belgium, with a Muslim population of about 5 percent among its 11 million people, has Europe's highest rate of citizens joining Islamist militants in Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-03-18

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