BELGIUM - FRANCE

French suspect arrested over Brussels Jewish Museum shooting

Photo: AFP
2 min

A Frenchman with suspected ties to Islamic extremists in Syria has been arrested over last week’s shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels that left four people dead, according to sources linked to the investigation.

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The 29-year-old suspect was arrested Friday in the southern French city of Marseille, the sources told the AFP news agency.

He was detained by customs officials at the city’s coach station on board a bus arriving from Amsterdam via Brussels and was found carrying a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and a gun with ammunition in his luggage, as well as a miniature video camera.

He has been detained on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a judicial source said.

The office of the Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed a suspect was being held. Prosecutors in both Paris and Brussels were expected to give a news conference on the arrest later Sunday.

Originally from Roubaix in northern France, the man is believed to have travelled to join Islamist fighters in Syria in 2013, and was known to the French domestic intelligence agency the DGSI, the source said.

He is being questioned by the DGSI who can hold him for up to 96 hours, until Tuesday, or 144 hours, to Thursday, if investigators invoke an imminent terrorist threat.

Last week, Belgian police released a video of the museum attack, in which the suspect can be seen entering the museum carrying two heavy black bags from which he then pulls a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and opens fire. The man’s face is not clear in the footage as his head is covered by a gray cap.

An Israeli couple, a French woman and a Belgian man died in the shooting.

Belgian authorities have refused to say whether the attack was linked to anti-Semitism, though French President François Hollande said last week he had no doubt about the “anti-Semitic character” of the shootings.

After receiving news of the arrest, Joel Rubinfeld, head of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism, described it as “a relief”.

"But this is also worrying us ... it is crucial that countries who have citizens who have gone to Syria take all necessary measures to make sure this does not happen again," he told France’s BFM-TV.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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