Terror suspects arrested in raids by heavily armed police in Brussels may have included members of a further murder squad who escaped from Paris late on 13 November, it has emerged.
Earlier, French authorities seemed to indicate that all those involved in the bloody attacks across the French , which left at least 129 people dead and 99 critically injured in hospital, had either blown themselves up, or been shot dead by police.
But Belgian officials said that at least one of five people arrested in the Molenbeek district of Brussels by police teams backed by bomb disposal units had been in Paris on the night of 13 November. Two other attackers may also have escaped.
Belgian justice minister Koen Geens confirmed that the arrests were linked to the Paris attacks. He said that they came after Paris police found a grey VW Polo rental car with Belgian number plates near the scene of the Bataclan concert hall, where the most brutal shooting took place. “There were arrests relating to the search of the vehicle and person who rented it,” Mr Geens said.
He said Belgian anti-terror services flagged up a possible terrorist connection as soon as the name of the car hirer was passed to them, because the hirer’s brother was on their watch list. The man who rented the car was “as far as we know, still alive”, he said. Paris police searching for another car with Belgian plates, a black Seat, later discovered it near the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
Molenbeek, on the east side of Brussels, is home to a large community of immigrants from Morocco and Turkey. It is also one of the poorest places in the country. In January, two suspected terrorists were killed there after a shoot-out with Belgian police, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
Belgian police blocking a street during a police raid in connection with the attacks in Paris, in Brussels' Molenbeek district on 14 November.