Belgian police sealed off streets in the centre of Brussels during raids late on Sunday night. Armed officers mounted several security operations – 19 in the capital. There were three in the industrial city of Charleroi, 50 Km to the south. Arrests were made but the fugitive Salah Abdeslam remains at large.
Belgian Federal Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt gave the following account:
“In total 16 persons were arrested. The investigating judge will decide tomorrow about there possible further detention. Until now, no fire-arms nor explosives were found. Salah Abdeslam is not among the person arrested during the searches.”
Twenty-six-year-old Salah Abdeslam has been on the run since he left Paris hours after his brother blew himself up at a cafe there. He is being hunted by French and Belgian police as he is thought to be one of the suspected nine assailants who carried the November 13 gun and bomb attacks in Paris. Seven of the militants died on the night.
There are unconfirmed reports Abdeslam has been spotted in a car near Liege heading towards Germany.
Three people have so far been charged in Belgium, where French authorities say the attacks were organised among a network of ISIL followers in Brussels, some of whom have fought in Syria.
Earlier on Sunday French police released a picture of a man they said was the third suicide bomber at the Stade de France as they try to identify him. French investigators have also extended into a fifth day the detention of a man arrested on Wednesday outside the building where the suspected ringleader died in a raid. The death toll in the attacks in Paris is now 130 people with scores more injured.