Belgian police find fingerprints of Paris attacks fugitive in apartment

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A Belgian prosecutor says the fingerprints of Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam have been found in a Brussels apartment that police raided earlier this week.

A man was shot dead at the scene on Tuesday as he fired on police. Two other people escaped from the dwelling in the Forest neighbourhood of Brussels.

Belgian federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt, who confirmed that Abdeslam’s prints were found at the scene, said it was not yet known if Abdeslam was one of them.

Abdeslam fled Paris after the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people. Most of the Paris attackers died that night, including Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, who blew himself up.

Mr Van der Sypt said it had not been established how old the fingerprints were, or how long Abdeslam spent in the apartment on the Rue Du Dries.

Police who raided the Brussels apartment found the banner of the Islamic State extremist group 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 lockdown to return to Brussels after the Paris attacks, and though he is the target of an international manhunt, has not been seen since.

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 was not 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.

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