Two of the suspects in Paris attacks were from Belgium

Published November 15th, 2015 - 05:15 GMT

Two of the suspects who died in the Paris attacks lived in the Belgian capital Brussels, prosecutors told local media on Sunday, while at least two of the cars used by the assailants were reported to have been rented in Belgium.

France and Belgium share a border and have been cooperating on the investigation into the eight nearly simultaneous attacks that took place in the French capital on Friday evening, which the Islamic State (Daesh) extremist group has claimed responsibility for.

At least 129 people were killed and 352 injured in the violence, which targeted the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France national sports stadium, and several restaurants and bars in Paris.

Suicide bombers who blew themselves up near the Stade de France had wanted to detonate themselves inside the stadium, where a France-Germany football match was underway, the French sports daily L'Equipe reported Sunday.

Authorities believe that three coordinated teams of terrorists armed with Kalashnikov rifles and explosive vests carried out the attacks. Seven assailants died in the violence.

Two of them were Frenchmen who lived in the Belgian capital, one in the centre of Brussels and one in the neighbourhood of Molenbeek, the Belga news agency quoted prosecution sources as saying. More information on their identity was not immediately available.

French police had previously identified one of the Bataclan attackers as a 29-year-old Frenchman, thanks to a print from one of his recovered fingers. French media named him as Omar Ismail Mostefai.

Seven of his relatives are in police custody for questioning, including his father and brother, French media reported. They were not believed to be formal suspects.

Investigators have also been focusing on a Syrian passport belonging to a person born in September 1990 that was found near the body of a suicide bomber at the Stade de France. It has not yet been officially confirmed that the passport belonged to the suspect.

Authorities in Greece said that the owner of the passport arrived in Europe in October as a refugee.

The passport data also matched that taken from a person who entered Serbia as a refugee, Belgrade authorities said Sunday. The Serbian daily Blic has published what it said was a scan of the passport, showing the name of Ahmad al-Mohammad, 25.

Migrants trying to reach Western Europe have typically made their way from Greece through the Balkans. There had long been warnings that terrorists may try to infiltrate the migrant flow, which is mostly made up of Syrian asylum seekers.

Most of Friday's victims in Paris were at the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 89 people died.

A Volkswagen Polo car rented in Belgium that is believed to have been used by the attackers was found near the Bataclan. Parking tickets inside the vehicle led investigators to the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, the France Info broadcaster reported.

Belgian authorities have taken into custody a total of seven people as part of the probes into the Paris attacks, Belga quoted the prosecution sources as saying. It was still being verified whether they were directly involved.

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens told local broadcasters on Saturday that the man who had rented the Polo was part of the people taken into custody. But the RTBF broadcaster reported Sunday that the renter was still on the run.

His brother was known to police for having attempted to go to Syria and is among the seven people in Belgian custody, RTBF said.

The renter is thought to have returned from France to Belgium aboard a Volkswagen Golf that was seized by Belgian police on Saturday evening, according to the broadcaster.

Another car rented in Belgium and believed to have played a role in the attacks was found in Paris near the Pere Lachaise cemetery, prosecutors told Belga on Sunday. Geens had said that this was a vehicle of the Seat brand.

French media also reported Sunday that police recovered a black Seat in the eastern suburb of Montreuil, which is near the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Kalashnikov rifles similar to the ones used in Friday's violence were found inside.

A Seat car is believed to have been used during the Paris attacks by gunmen who opened fire on people sitting outside several cafes and restaurants.

The vehicle found in Montreuil could have been used by surviving attackers to escape, the Europe1 broadcaster reported without citing sources.

But there is also speculation that the people detained in Molenbeek may have been among those who used the Seat car, according to a report by France Info.

By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl


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