BRUSSELS: Belgian police captured a suspect carrying what a broadcaster said was a suitcase full of explosives on Friday, after shooting him in the leg during a major police operation following Tuesday's suicide bombings in Brussels.
The federal prosecutor's office said the arrest was one of three in Brussels on Friday linked to the arrest in Paris the previous day of an extremist convicted in Belgium last year and suspected of plotting a new attack.
Nine people in total were arrested since Thursday in Belgium and two in Germany, as European authorities have swooped on militants they link both to the Brussels attacks that killed 31 people and to attacks in Paris last November that killed 130.
Heavily armed police and troops with trucks cordoned off an area around a major intersection in the northern Brussels borough of Schaerbeek. Three blasts could be heard, which the local mayor Bernard Clerfayt said were controlled explosions.
Belgian public broadcaster RTBF quoted Clerfayt as saying the suspect was detained after being wounded and that he was linked to Tuesday's suicide bombings in Brussels. It said he had been found to be in possession of a suitcase full of explosives.
Witnesses told local media police had shot the man in the leg at a tram stop after he failed to respond to their orders.
The Belgian federal prosecutor's office said six people were held in Brussels on Thursday, of whom three were released and three were remanded in custody facing possible charges. Three others were detained on Friday following the arrest in France of Reda Kriket, a 34-year-old Frenchman sentenced to 10 years in Brussels in absentia in July as part of a recruiting network dubbed the Syrian Connection.
Germany's Der Spiegel magazine said German police had arrested two people, one of whom had received phone messages with the name of the metro station bomber and the word ‘fin’ (French for ‘end’) three minutes before the metro blast. The German interior ministry declined immediate comment.
A person familiar with the investigation in Belgium said one of the people arrested there was believed to be a suspected accomplice caught on security camera footage with the metro station bomber.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2016.
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