String of arrests in Europe in possible connections to Paris attacks

#ParisAttacks

One of the gunmen has been confirmed to be a French national, while Syrian and Egyptian passports were also found at the scene

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in which gunmen wearing suicide bombing belts killed 129 people in several locations in Paris (AFP)
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Saturday 14 November 2015 23:16 UTC
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Police on Saturday took into custody the father and brother of a French gunman linked to a string of deadly Paris attacks and were searching the family's home.

Sources close to a probe into the France's worst ever terror attacks told AFP that police took the two into custody and were searching the father's home in the small town of Romilly-sur-Seine, some 130 kilometres east of Paris, as well as his brother's in nearby Bondoufle.

Authorities across Europe have been carrying out a string of security operations on Saturday apparently linked to the Friday Paris attacks in which 129 people were killed. 

A man was arrested in Germany's southern state of Bavaria after police found guns and explosives in his car, which they believe could be linked to the attacks in Paris, Bavaria's state premier told Reuters on Saturday.

"We have an arrest through the dragnet where there are reasonable grounds for presuming that it might be related to the matter," Horst Seehofer said in a speech at a local Christian Democrats party congress.

Belgium’s Justice Minister Koen Geens also said authorities had made “more than one” arrest linked to the Paris attacks after a car with Belgian license plates was seen close to the Bataclan theatre in Paris where hostages were taken and  one of the places where victims were killed.

The minister said police had organised several raids in the St. Jans Molenbeek neighbourhood in Brussels.
 
Geens said "there were arrests relating to the search of the vehicle and person who rented it". 
 
Irish Times reporter Suzanne Lynch told the US news outlet CBS that St. Jans Molenbeek has often been targeted by police in the past for links to terrorism.

Three suspects in the Paris terror attacks lived in Brussels, according to Belgian media reports.

One person has been arrested after raids were carried out in the Molenbeek area of the city, reports said.

Under the national state of emergency in France that President Francois Hollande declared on Friday night, French police can declare curfews in specific areas if they believe there are threats to security. They can also arrest “any individual who might threaten the actions of police authorities”. The French Army has deployed 1,500 additional troops to patrol Paris streets and stations, he said.

The identities of at least eight attackers have yet to be confirmed. However, one of the gunmen who were killed after attacking a Paris concert hall on Friday was a French national and was known to have ties with Islamist militants, a source close to France’s investigation told Reuters on Saturday. 

The same source said the person hailed from the Courcouronnes suburb south of Paris.

A Syrian passport was also found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday’s attacks in Paris and showed that the passport holder was allowed entry into Greece in October, a Greek minister told Reuters.

“The holder of the passport passed through the island of Leros on 3 October 2015, where he was identified according to EU rules,” said Nikos Toscas, Greece’s deputy minister in charge of policing.

A Greek police source told Reuters that European countries had been asked to check the passport holders to see if they had been registered.

Even though this could imply that one of the gunmen travelled into Europe with the stream of refugees in recent months, Syrian passports are known to be in high demand for those trying to enter Europe, and it remains unconfirmed whether the passport belongs to one of the perpetrators.

French media also said that an Egyptian passport had been found near the body of a second suicide bomber.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in which gunmen wearing suicide vests killed at least 129 people in several locations in Paris on Friday.

Two Algerians were among at least 129 people killed in the gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by the Islamic State group, the official APS news agency said Saturday.

The agency cited diplomatic sources as saying they were a woman aged 40 and a 29-year-old man, but did not give their names.

Algeria, which has the largest foreign community in France, has set up a crisis centre at the foreign ministry and at its Paris embassy to provide assistance to any families of Algerian victims of the attacks.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Saturday branded the Paris attacks as a "crime against humanity" and urged international solidarity in the face of extremism.

Other European countries have also begun to make arrests in connection to the Paris attacks, with many countries raising threat levels. 

In the UK, a Frenchman has been arrested at Gatwick airport after police found a firearm in his belongings.

Police detained the 41-year-old from Vendome after he threw an item into a rubbish bin.

The terminal was evacuated for six hours as a precautionary measure.

Explosive ordnance disposal units investigated the item and carried out a small controlled explosion. It remains unknown if the man has any connection to the attacks in Paris on Saturday.