Mohamed Abrini, a key suspect wanted in connection with the Paris attacks last November along with four others have been arrested in Belgium.
Abrini was arrested in the borough of Anderlecht, in Brussels, next to the western district of Molenbeek, while two other suspects were detained at the same time as Abrini, and two further arrests made in an undisclosed location in Brussels.
Abrini was arrested with two others in the Anderlecht operation, CNN quoted Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Thierry Werts as saying.
Abrini, 31, is being looked by the prosecutors as the suspect, the ‘man in the hat’ who fled Brussels airport after two accomplices blew themselves up in co-ordinated attacks in the Molenbeek airport and metro on March 22, which killed over 32 people and left several injured, reports the Guardian.
Days before the Paris attacks, he was seen on the city road, but disappeared before attackers killed 130 people in coordinated assaults at the national stadium, bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall.
Abrini had travelled to Paris with his friend Salah Abdeslam, another Paris attacks prime suspect who was arrested last month in Brussels. Both had rented an apart-hotel in Alfortville in the Paris suburbs that some of the suicide bombers used as a base before the attacks on the French capital.
The two other men detained in connection with the Brussels attacks were identified as Osama K, alias Naim Al Ahmed, and Herve BM. The investigators are now trying to verify whether Osama was the man who accompanied Khalid el-Bakraoui, who blew himself up at Maelbeek metro station.
Najim Laachraoui, 24, one of two jihadis who blew themselves up at Brussels airport was also a suspected Islamic State recruiter and bomb-maker whose DNA was found on two explosive belts used in the Paris attacks.
Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, who blew himself up on the Brussels metro one hour later after his elder brother Ibrahim had detonated a suicide vest at Brussels airport, was also suspected of playing some kind of logistics role in the Paris attacks.
Meanwhile, the Belgian investigation has already established links between a large group of men identified as friends or brothers, who are suspected of playing different roles in both the Paris attacks and Brussels attacks.
Image: Police vehicles gather in Anderlect after fugitive Mohamed Abrini was arrested in a suburb of Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters