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Salah Abdeslam, Paris Attacks Suspect, Captured After Brussels Police Raid

'We got him'.

18/03/2016 16:46 GMT | Updated 18/03/2016 20:15 GMT

Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam has been captured by police after a dramatic raid in Brussels that saw gunfire and explosions.

Police descended in force on a flat in the Molenbeek neighbourhood at around 4pm on Friday and Abdeslam, Europe's most wanted man, was reportedly shot in the leg.

Two explosions were later reported at the scene, around two hours after Abdeslam's arrest, though their cause was not immediately clear.

Dramatic footage emerged showing an arrest of a wounded suspect during the raid. His identity was not confirmed, though several outlets reported it was Abdeslam, who was one of three people arrested after Friday's raid. 

One of the other suspects is believed to be Soufiane Kayal, who has links to Mohamed Belkaid, an Algerian killed in a police raid in Brussels on Tuesday.

Abdeslam, 26, fled Paris after the November 13 gun and bomb attacks that killed 130 people at a theatre, the national stadium and cafes.

Most of the Paris attackers died that night, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, who blew himself up.

The Belgian Minister for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken confirmed the suspect's capture after four months on the run, saying: "We got him."

Shortly after police asked local residents to evacuate10 shots were fired, Belgian paper De Standaard reported.

Reuters
Armed police during the raid

Appearing alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, French President Francois Hollande said Abdeslam was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant and said France would seek his extradition as soon as possible.

Michel told reporters that two of the three suspects were wounded. Both were armed, he added.

He added security forces were facing "new form of threat" and must "remain alert".

"We are facing very wide networks that cover several countries," he said.

THIERRY ROGE via Getty Images
Michel (left) and Hollande (right) address reporters

 

At the end of the press conference, Hollande said the arrests were but "not the final conclusion of this story".

He added: "There will have to be more because we know that the network was quite widespread in Belgium, in France, in other countries of Europe as well. 

"So until we have arrested all those who took part or contributed, financed that terrorist network that committed the abominable attacks, the war acts of the 13 November, our fight will not be over until then."

Brahim Abdeslam was buried in Brussels on Thursday in a discreet ceremony at an interdenominational cemetery.

Salah Abdeslam has been the subject of a massive manhunt since the attacks, for which the so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

Belgian broadcaster RTL published an image that, they claimed, showed the moment of Abdeslam's arrest.

They also showed an image of the apparent explosion during the raid.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A police image of Salah Abdeslam

Television footage showed masked, black-clad security forces guarding a street in the capital.

Police cordoned off the area and evacuated the area as they continued their operation.

As events unfolded, Prime Minister Michel rushed out of a European Union summit.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Special operations police secure an area during the raid

Belgian authorities confirmed earlier today that they found Abdeslam’s fingerprints in a Brussels apartment after the raid on Tuesday. He had been on the run since then.

According to the Belgian federal prosecutor's office, the Algerian man killed during that operation on Tuesday was likely one of the people investigators were seeking in relation to the Paris attacks.

Friday's raid was reportedly due to take place on Saturday but was brought forward after news of the fingerprint leaked.

They were acting on a tip-off from a local source.

Images of the raid

  • DIRK WAEM via Getty Images
    Policemen block a road, near the scene of a police raid in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016.
  • Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
  • JOHN THYS via Getty Images
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Reuters
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    Police officers guard an entrance of a school.
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  • Reuters
  • Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
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  • Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AP
  • Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AP
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
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  • DIRK WAEM via Getty Images
  • JOHN THYS via Getty Images
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    An ambulance arrives during the raid.
  • Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AP
    Police secure an area during a police raid in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, Belgium on Friday, March 18, 2016. Two French police officials have told The Associated Press that Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from Islamic extremist attacks in Paris in November, has been arrested in Belgium's capital after four months at large. He was arrested Friday in a major police operation in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek. (AP Photo/Geoffrey Van der Hasselt)
  • Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP
  • Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AP
  • Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AP
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
Paris attacks: Bataclan theatre scene