Suspects arrested in Brussels may have included members of a further murder squad who escaped from city during massacre

by Chris Green-Leo Cendrowicz
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 capital, 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.

Earlier Greek officials revealed that one of the terrorists who died during the onslaught may have entered the EU through the Greek island of Leros last month, among 69 refugees on a small vessel from Turkey. A Syrian passport, found near his body, had been linked with a passenger whose fingerprints were taken on his arrival in Greece. A second suspect among the attackers is very likely to have entered Europe though Greece, Greek government sources said,

Police said one terrorist had an Egyptian passport while another had been identified by his fingerprints as a 29-year-old French national, already known to security services, born in the Courcouronnes suburb south of Paris. He had previously been arrested, but not jailed, officials said.
François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, said three teams of terrorists worked together to co-ordinate the attacks. He said six terrorists had blown themselves up and a seventh was shot dead by police. 

On 14 November Islamic State claimed it had carried out the atrocities, which targeted mostly young people enjoying a night out in bars and restaurants, and at a rock concert and a football match. The group issued a statement saying the venues had been “carefully chosen” and warning that the attack by “brothers carrying explosive belts and guns” was “only the start of the storm”.

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