Fugitive Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam captured in anti-terror raid
Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive from Islamic extremist attacks in Paris in November, was arrested in Belgium's capital Friday ending a manhunt that stretched on for four months, officials confirmed.
He was shot in the leg and arrested in a major police operation in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, deputy mayor Ahmed El Khannouss said. Two other suspects were also in custody, French president Francois Hollande added. Fox News has confirmed the raid is over.
A spokesman for the Belgium federal prosecutor's office says four people have been detained along with Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam, including three members of a family that sheltered him.
The raid and investigation show more people were involved in the Paris attacks than anti-terror officials initially thought, Hollande said. The Nov. 13 gun and bomb attacks killed 130 people at a theatre, the national stadium and cafes.
Hollande says France will seek Abdeslam's extradition and that he believes Belgium will respond as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Theo Francken, Belgium's secretary of state for asylum and migration, tweeted, "We hebben hem," which translates into English as, "We got him." Francken later removed the tweet after reports that other Belgium officials were unhappy that he broke the news.
The arrest marks a dramatic turn in the investigation that has vexed European officials for months.
Most of the Paris attackers died the night of the massacre, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, who blew himself up. The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks, in which Belgian nationals played key roles.
As Friday's events unfolded, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel rushed out of a European Union summit, and was expected to be joined at Belgian government offices by Interior Minister Jan Jambon, RTBF said.
Belgian authorities say they found Abdeslam's fingerprints in an apartment raided on Tuesday in another Brussels neighborhood. In that raid, two people escaped from the home in the Forest neighborhood of Brussels, but Belgian federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said it wasn't yet known if Abdeslam was one of them. He also said it hasn't been established how old the fingerprints were, or how long Abdeslam spent in the apartment on the Rue Du Dries.
Police who raided the apartment Tuesday found an ISIS banner as well as 11 Kalashnikov loaders and a large quantity of ammunition, the prosecutor said.
A man was shot dead by a police sniper there as he prepared to open fire on police from a window. Police identified him as Mohamed Belkaid, 35, an Algerian national living illegally in Belgium.
A Kalashnikov assault rifle was found by his body, as well as a book on Salafism, an ultraconservative strain of Islam.
Police who went to search the apartment "were not expecting a violent armed reaction," Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
Four officers, including a French policewoman, were slightly wounded when they were shot at as they opened the door.
Abdeslam slipped through a police dragnet to return to Brussels after the Paris attacks, and though he is the target of an international manhunt, has not been seen since.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington that Obama was informed by his counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco.
He said U.S. officials have been in close touch with French and Belgium officials "as they have conducted investigations into the attacks and as they've taken steps to try to safeguard their country."
In January, Belgian authorities said one of his fingerprints was found alongside homemade suicide bomb belts at an apartment in another area of Brussels. Belgian prosecutors said it wasn't known whether he had been at the address in the Schaerbeek district before or after the Paris attacks, or how long he had spent there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.