15 Nov 2015

Arrests made over Paris attacks, suspect identified

French police are holding two relatives of one of the men behind the Paris attacks which killed 129 people. Belgian police have also arrested seven people in connection with the attack.

(Video courtesy of RTL Belgium)

French authorities have confirmed police were holding men close to one of the attackers. They have also identified one of the gunmen behind Friday night’s deadly attack as a Frenchman, who the police had previously marked as a potential Islamist extremist.

Belgian prosecutors said on Sunday that two of the attackers killed in Paris were French nationals living in Brussels.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, police arrested seven people in raids on a poor immigrant neighbourhood of Brussels.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said at least one of those held from the Molenbeek neighbourhood were thought to have spent the previous evening in Paris, where two cars registered in Belgium were found close to scenes of some of the violence, including the Bataclan music hall.

French police say one of the cars was hired in Belgium by a Frenchman living in Brussels. A police source said it is possible one gunman had managed toe scape as acar believed to have been used by the attackers was found in Montreuil, in the east of Paris. Eyewitnesses told Channel 4 News that guns were also found in the car.

Residents say the car was checked for booby traps and then removed by police.

The Belgium connection

Molenbeek, west of Brussel’s city centre, is home to many Muslims, including families originally from Morocco and Turkey. Most of the European fighters who have travelled to Syria have come from Belgium – some 300 fighters by official estimates.

Molenbeek has also been connected to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Some of the weapons used in that attack were bought from Molenbeek, as were the weapons used in the unsuccessful attack on a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris.

Arrests made over Paris attacks, suspect identified

Attacker identified

One of the attackers has been identified as Omar Mostefai, a 29-year-old French national born in southern Paris.

He had previous arrest records and had been sentenced eight times for petty crimes, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. Mostefai was blew himself up in the Bataclan concert hall where most of the 129 deaths from the attacks late on Friday took place.

Father-of-one Mostefai was born in Courcouronnes, a southern suburb of Paris and lived in Chartres, southwest of the capital. He is suspected to have stayed in Syria between 2013 and 2014, Le Monde reported.

Police believe Mostefai was part of three coordinated teams that carried out the attacks, which have been described as “an act of war” by President Francois Hollande.

The attacks follow French participation in US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

They are the worst attacks in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which Islamists killed 191 people.