Europe

Paris attacks: Belgian police arrest ninth suspect

A Belgian special forces police officer patrols a street during a police raid in Brussels, 20 December 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Belgian police have carried out several raids in recent days

Police in Belgium have arrested a ninth suspect in connection with last month's Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.

Prosecutors say Abdoullah C was contacted by the cousin of suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud soon after the 13 November attacks.

Both Abaaoud, a Belgian national, and his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen died five days later when police raided a flat near Paris where they were barricaded.

The suicide bombings and mass shootings were France's deadliest-ever attacks.

Few details have been released about the alleged role played by Abdoullah C, who is reported to have been arrested in a low-key operation in Brussels on Tuesday.

Police did not immediately announce his arrest in order to avoid alerting potential accomplices, a spokesman said. He appeared before a Brussels court on Thursday but his case was postponed, local media say.

Several phone calls were made between the suspect and Hasna Aitboulahcen "after the terrorist attacks and before the Seine-Saint-Denis raid", the Belgian prosecutor's spokesman said.

A decision on extending his detention was due to take place on Thursday.

Manhunt continues

Abdoullah C appeared in court alongside another suspect, Abraimi Lazez, according to reports. Lazez, 39, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, was arrested last month in the Belgian town of Laeken and is suspected of helping key suspect Salah Abdeslam flee France.

Police found two guns and traces of blood in a car connected to Mr Lazez but determined that the blood did not belong to Abdeslam and neither of the guns was capable of firing live ammunition.

Police are still searching for Mr Abdeslam, 26. They believe he took part in the 13 November attacks before contacting friends in Belgium to drive him back over the border to Brussels.

Despite a series of raids, police have failed to find him.

French police have conducted thousands of raids in connection with the Paris attacks. Hundreds of people have been placed under house arrest across France.