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Belgian police identify three homes used by Paris attacks suspects

Thierry Roge, Belga, AFP archive | Police officers conduct new searches linked to Paris terrorist attacks in Molenbeek, Brussels, on December 30, 2015

Belgian investigators say they have now identified three homes used by suspects to prepare the deadly attacks in Paris in November.

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The Belgian prosecutor's office said in a statement Wednesday that the Paris attack plotters had rented an apartment in Brussels and another in the city of Charleroi at the start of September.

They had also rented a house in the town of Auvelais, some 55 kilometres south of Brussels, at the start of October. All three were rented for a year, and paid in cash. The tenants gave false identities.

Investigators found DNA traces of one of the attackers, Bilal Hadfi, who blew himself up in Paris on November 13, the prosecutors said.

In the Charleroi apartment they found mattresses and fingerprints of both Hadfi and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian who had fought in Syria and was believed to be one of the plot leaders. He was killed after a siege in St Denis, near Paris, on November 18.

In the case of the Auvelais house, the fake identity was that of a person picked up in Budapest on September 9 by key suspect Salah Abdeslam, who is now on the run.

An international manhunt has been under way for Belgian-born Abdeslam, 26, since suicide bombers and assailants firing automatic weapons killed 130 people and wounded 350 in a wave of attacks across Paris.

Prosecutors on Friday said that one of Abdeslam's fingerprints, three hand-made belts for possible use in suicide attacks and traces of explosives were discovered during a search in December of an apartment in the Brussels suburb of Schaerbeek.

Investigators have also established that the Seat Leon hatchback used in the Paris attacks stopped near the suspected safe houses in Charleroi and Auvelais. Another vehicle, a BMW rented by a suspect, stopped near all three locations.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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