18/03/2016 World News Today


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This is BBC News. Continuing coverage of the police raid in


Brussels. The main developments. At least two suspects have been


arrested in the raid, including the only known surviving gunman from


last year's Terrace attacks in Paris, in which 130 people died.


This is the moment that Belgian special Armed Forces began the raid


on the property. Salah Abdeslam was arrested after being shot and


wounded. He has been on the run since the Paris attacks in November.


More explosions in the district have been heard tonight as police hunt


for more suspects who fled the scene. This is the live in the


Belgian capital where police have sealed off the area where the raid


took place. There are reports of more arrests.


Hello and welcome to BBC News. Anti-terror police in the Belgian


capital of Brussels say they have arrested three people, including the


main suspect in the Paris attacks last November. Sal Abdeslam was


detained after anti-terror police carried out a raid in the Mullen


back area of the city, during which shots were fired.


Abdeslam, 26, has been on the run since November. It is believed he


played a key role in the attacks last November which killed 130


people. Media are reporting police have also captured two other


suspects. As ambulances were heading to the


scene, police sources here in Brussels were already saying they


had got their man. Sal Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the Paris attacks,


sources said shot in the leg and in custody. Filmed by an eyewitness,


police amassing as they hunted him. It was mid afternoon in a Molenbeek


area of Brussels. Dozens of units descended. There was gunfire. One


witness said he saw a man being chased down the road, shot and then


falling. For Belgian police, this seems to have been a considerable


success. Sal Abdeslam, the prime suspect from the Paris attacks,


wounded in the leg and then the teams arrested at the top of this


street, following these police investigations that have been going


on since the Paris attacks, which have traced to this location.


Belgian's Prime Minister Charles Michel rushed out of the summit of


European leaders taking place across town to be briefed on the operation.


He and Francis Holland were briefed on the situation. Sal Abdeslam has


evaded police since November. Prosecutors say he was a key player


in the Paris attacks. Earlier this week, his fingers were found after


police raid this house in Brussels. It is thought he may have escaped


out of a back window as another man fired at offices to give them pinned


down. Police were on his trail and closing in, the neighbours had no


idea he had been in the house. I opened my door to pick up my son at


school and I heard a lot of policeman yelling at me, go home, go


home, go home. Actually, this shooting had just happened, the


first one, and the operation was happening just in front of me and we


didn't realise. Sal Abdeslam has been taken to hospital to be treated


for his ruins. No officers were injured in the operation. After


months of painstaking, this was a success for the police, but it has


also raised tensions in Molenbeek this evening. Riot police were


brought in to deal with groups drawn in by the presence of so many


officers on the streets. Hopefully we will be talking to


Damien later in Mullen -- Molenbeek, but let's cross


Damien later in Mullen -- Molenbeek, bring us up to speed with where we


are now. In the last bring us up to speed with where we


reports of more bring us up to speed with where we


streets of Molenbeek and also local media reports of further arrests.


Bell that is the situation at the moment. The operation does seem to


be ongoing. Reports of explosions that I believe we are not sure


exactly what might be causing them. We know Sal Abdeslam has been


arrested and injured. A second man has also been arrested. He is


another person who is wanted in relation to those attacks. Those


reports are coming out now of a third person, possibly being


arrested by police, and I think Damien was saying earlier that there


were reports that police were targeting another house in the area


where he may have been hiding from them.


Lucy, I presume this is being covered wall-to-wall in France. This


must come as a huge relief. The most wanted man in Europe and of course


in France, months after those deadly attacks on November 13, has at last


been captured. This is very big news in France. A great relief I should


imagine for the government here. The authorities had been under enormous


pressure to capture him. He was the key surviving suspects from those


attacks. As such, the fact he has been captured alive and is


potentially able to answer questions will be of enormous interest to the


government here. The attacks still have left a real scar under Franz


and the threat against France remains very strong. We are told the


president has repeatedly warned it is being targeted by groups like


Islamic State. The fact they have caught a man who can potentially


give them valuable information about other people who might be connected


to the network about logistics. It will be of incredible value to the


intelligence services, who are trying to stop future attacks. The


$64,000 question is whether he is able to tell them whether he will


choose to. The fact he has been caught alive is a huge boost to the


security forces in France and Belgium, who have been under


increasing pressure to bring this opportunity to a successful


conclusion. Lucy, there is a real sense, is there not, in France, that


it is still a target and remains a target. It is a country on a


heightened sense of alert. The government has already said they


have managed to foil several attacks in the past


few months and it is clear that France has been regularly named by


militants he would choose to do damage towards it. Still very much a


question of how best to of the problems of the intelligence


agency is dealing with is that the profile of many people who have


carried out attacks in the past year is very broad. These are not people


who are seen as ardent Islamist militants. These are people who are


perhaps more known to local police as petty criminals who have made the


transition to militant Islam very, very quickly indeed. You might


remember there was talk of the Abdeslam brothers running a


bar, drinking alcohol, smoking cannabis, just


shortly before they carried out these attacks in the name of radical


Islam. It is difficult for the intelligence agency to pinpoint who


they should follow most closely, where they should put most of their


resources. Anything we can get -- they can get in the pursuit of


narrowing the search will be greatly appreciated. The problem is whether


Abdeslam will choose to talk. Indeed. Walk us through recent


events that led us to today. Of course involving huge amounts of


close cooperation of France and Belgium. A relationship that has not


been without its tensions. embarrassment that some of the


suspects managed to slip through the hands of the authorities. Sal


Abdeslam managed to cross checkpoints into Brussels after the


attacks and that was embarrassing for both sides. They have been


working together, as you say, not without tensions, but they have been


working together. The manhunt has been enormous. The resources given


have been enormous. We found on Tuesday there was a strong lead, a


strong sense they were on the right trail, when they found fingerprints


belonging to Sal Abdeslam in the property in Molenbeek and also an


exchange of gunfire with some of his presumed


was a real sense that they were on the right trail. Having said that,


they also found fingerprints of Sal Abdeslam in December which did not


leave them anywhere useful. It seems they have found


some information in that house, whether it


they arrested there, evidence they've done inside the property


that led them to where they are today, and they have Sal Abdeslam


final in custody. After this intends for manhunt.


We can speak to our reporter who was there when it took place. I was in


the centre of Molenbeek, where the house raid was. The house that was


rented by somebody and where Abdeslam was hiding. It is


in the centre of Molenbeek, close to the centre of Brussels.


really in the suburbs. It is close to the centre. What efforts were


made to protect civilians? We could see


people inside shops and walking along the street while this was


happening. When they raided the house worth Sal Abdeslam was hiding,


they had made a safety zone around the house and people were


-- Salah Abdeslam. The raids continued in several other places,


several other houses. We could see special forces were entering houses


around the neighbourhood without actually taking the civilians at a


distance. That was a bit frightening, because you could see


people who were trying to get to their


houses, but then police officers would stop


although there was not really a sign of a safety


zone. People didn't know where to go to. Extraordinary pictures, a normal


day in this part of the Belgian capital. These extremely heavily


armed police out on the streets. What did you hear? There were


reports of gunfire. What was the People were surprised and were


wondering what the sound was and where it was coming from. People


knew these were explosions, shootings, but they didn't really


want to believe that this was really happening in their neighbourhood.


People asked. They asked what is happening, why are they doing this?


People were frightened, wondering, wanted to know what was happening,


why they couldn't go home. That seems to be a


bit more quiet now. People are aware about


what is going on. They know that Salah Abdeslam is


arrested at the moment. Things aren't more quiet now. How much of a


relief will this be for the Belgian authorities, that this man, who has


been on the run for all this time, is finally in custody. On the one


hand, it is a relief because they have arrested and have him alive,


and he might eventually speak. It is a relief but on the other hand, this


whole operation also shows that the network is very broad, the Paris


attacks, but attacks that are still plans to take place later on, but it


is a relief on one hand, but it also shows that there is reason to be


concerned and worried about what are the other plans. . How is Molenbeek


compared with other districts which might Molenbeek has been in the


picture as the terrorist capital of Europe. It is true that Salah


Abdeslam has been found there. Not only is Molenbeek ablaze with these


guys are hiding, other districts of Brussels and also Antwerp is a


region where we find people connected to these networks. We


can't say that is Molenbeek is the one and only centre of terror in


Europe, not at all. In many countries across Europe, there are


efforts being made by the authorities to have a better


relationship with Islamic communities. What efforts are being


made in Belgium, in Brussels in particular, to reach out to these


groups? This is also something, last year already, after the foiled


attacks, where they found terrorists, they were starting to


approach the Moslem community to get a better understanding. Over the


last year, this didn't really help a lot. Lots of talking and nothing


really happening. After the Paris attacks, now politicians and


activists are doing a bigger effort to understand Islam and to


understand the community in Molenbeek and this is something we


see. It is new, the first steps are being made. It is not at all


finished yet, it is ongoing, but it is very important that this


continues. We appreciate you talking to us. She was at the scene as the


raid took place earlier in the afternoon.


Our world affairs editor joins me now. So much focus on this


particular suburb of Brussels. Molenbeek, a reference to its being


the tourist capital of Europe. Something we have heard bandied


about in the media since November 13. To what degree is this true? It


is difficult to tell, except that we have no significant number of the


people involved in the Paris attacks have come from that specific


district. It is a particularly rundown area, an area which is,


bizarrely, it seems very night. A heavy concentration of people from


North Africa, a lot of Muslims living in that area. Not much


connection with the rest of the city. Security officials talk about


it as being something of a breeding ground for jihadists. As we were


hearing just now, it is a broader problem across Belgium, but Bob what


we know is a very large numbers of Belgians in terms of per capita have


gone to fight in Iraq and Syria alongside so-called Islamic State


and quite a significant number have returned to Belgium. They clearly


have a very significant problem. As we are seeing now, the network of


people involved in the Paris attacks seems to be broadening and


broadening. The fact they are now saying that potentially three people


have been detained in this latest raid, more people, and obviously the


raids are ongoing. We have to see just quite how broad it is going to


go, but it seems like a significant number of people involved. Everyone


expected at the time, because it was such a sophisticated, well-planned


attack. I think we can now see some pictures of one of these recent


arrests that have taken place in Molenbeek. There we are. These are


not live pictures, this is from a few hours ago. Let's listen.


INDISTINCT SHOUTING. We are watching these pictures again


from a few hours ago. These are pictures of one of the arrests being


made on the streets of Molenbeek by Belgian police. We are not entirely


sure at this stage who that particular man is that is being


bundled into the back of that car. Let's have another watch now to see


exactly how many men we can see. Local media is reporting that a


third arrest has been made, but we don't know at this stage who that


particular man is. We think now that we can see two


separate men being arrested at this stage. This man being the first


there in the cream, off-white hoodie, that is being put into the


back of that lack faults like an car. Here comes the second now.


Recent speculation is now by local media that there has been a third


arrest. We are awaiting confirmation on that. Let's cross back to the


live pictures now. This is the scene currently as it is in Molenbeek.


Let's go back a couple of hours, referencing those pictures we just


sort of valves arrests. What did you make of them? It is interesting.


They clearly knew what they were doing, the apartments they targeted,


they had good information. The point to bring out is that it all stems


from earlier raid on Tuesday when one man was shot dead and two


managed to escape. It seems that Abdeslam was one of those people.


One we have seen being arrested just now, or the video of it, where from


that apartment in the first rate this week. Clearly the police and


intelligence agency had good information and knew what they were


doing. Thank you for talking to us. Let's speak to a French security


consultant. Thank you very much for patiently waiting to speak to us.


How is this arrest and raid being seen in Paris? They are being seen


as finally, after the fourth try, they have been able to capture


Abdeslam. What is really important to say that he did not try to flee


Belgium, he stayed there. He was hiding, but he was hiding for four


Mons. It is important to look at the support networks, because he could


not have gone undetected for four months a while. Security services


will be looking closely at what is happening in Molenbeek and other


places. On Twitter, congratulations to the Belgian authorities on the


capture of Salah Abdeslam. How much pressure have the Belgian


authorities been under? A lot, from the French first, because obviously


they were close to being ridiculed for having let him go and missed him


three times. There were reports of him being in another district of


Brussels for three weeks undetected. They were under a lot of pressure to


show they were competent and that they would get the job done. It


hasn't just been down to the Belgian authorities, has it? What French


involvement has there been? What has been decided a month ago at the


level of the Prime Minister, between France and Belgium, was open book


cooperation, sharing information for the first time, what we saw on


Tuesday, a joint operation where French forces took part in the raid


in Brussels. That is very telling about how much those two nations


need to work together. That is assigned for the nations in Europe


to look at this and say, if we don't stick together, then all this will


happen time and time again. The state secretary has been tweeting,


we've got him. Clearly, they are very pleased to have him alive. How


important was it, as far as you are aware, that he was taken alive, even


though possibly wounded? Hugely important, because for a lot of


reasons. Unfortunately, we are flying blind, so to have somebody


that actually took part in the planning, the preparation, the


knowledge of all the different networks within Islamic State in


Europe, is huge. What people have to remember, as well, is that,


Abdeslam, compared to the others, got cold feet, and most probably as


we saw through his suicide belt before leaving. He might be more


willing to target than somebody who would have been even more of a


hard-core radical Islamic. His ability to remain in Belgium all


this time since those attacks in November in Paris throws up a great


deal of questions. How surprised are you that he stayed in Europe when


there was speculation that he had fled to Syria? Might take was, I


wouldn't see him go to Syria for one reason only. My reasoning is that,


if he were to rejoin the Islamic State, he would be viewed as someone


that's decided not to go ahead with the operation. His life most


probably have been more at risk in Syria than staying in Belgium. It


would make sense for him to stay in Europe. The question about the


support networks come into play. The money, logistics, people renting the


apartments on his behalf, all this shows that Belgium is the nexus, if


you will, of jihadist terrorism in Europe. But how likely is it that he


has had support from the middle east, from Islamic State in Iraq or


Syria, rather than just in Belgium? I would say that it is unlikely that


after an operation that he took part in and fled, that he would have had


more support from Iraq and Syria. It was the local networks, and that is


what is really worrisome, that this ingrained radical element that I


living in Belgium at the moment and that could help him. We will stop


you there. We really appreciate you sharing your inside with us. We will


speak to you again in a moment. I want to update people if you have


just joined us, you are watching BBC News where we are following this


raid that is still underway. An operation in the district of


Molenbeek in the Belgian capital of Brussels. Stay with us.


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