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Manhunt Underway For Suspect In Belgium


The story of the attacks on Paris begins, so far as we know, in Syria. U.S. officials have identified two men in Syria suspected of ordering the attacks on behalf of the Islamic State. Among the bombers who were killed on Friday was a man with a Syrian passport. He's been identified by a fingerprint as a migrant who arrived in Europe not long ago. Other suspects who were killed at the scene were living in Paris. Still more lived in Belgium. And a manhunt is underway for one subject believed still to be alive. And that manhunt now takes us to Belgium, where NPR's Peter Kenyon is standing by. Peter, what has been happening today?

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, that wanted man that you mentioned is Salah Abdeslam. And he's the brother of two other people said to be involved in these attacks. Well, we know one died. One brother died Friday night in Paris and the other was in custody. He was just released today, apparently after giving information to the authorities. And today, we saw a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood, and that's a working-class, highly-migrant, highly-Muslim neighborhood. And it has a history of people with those streaks and carrying out some similar attacks on a much smaller scale. So for several hours today, the street was locked down. There were SWAT teams and sniffer dogs trying to see if there were any explosives. But in the end, after several hours, the federal prosecutor said there were no arrests made. But the manhunt for Mr. Abdeslam is continuing.

INSKEEP: Is there any sense that there actually was a suspect in the location that they were surrounding?

KENYON: There is. The early reports that were being given to the Belgian press and other reporters indicated that an arrest was imminent. There was even a report that one had been made. That was then retracted later. After that, it's been a bit quiet. There may well be an announcement later in the day. As far as we know, it was a raid. The information may have produced valuable intelligence. It's not clear yet. But there was no one taken into custody.

INSKEEP: Now, we heard from our colleague David Greene and others in Paris that the French authorities have rounded up quite a few people in the last few days. Is the same thing happening in Belgium? Are there large numbers of suspects or people generally suspected of some kind of misbehavior being picked up for questioning?

KENYON: Well, there were seven picked up Saturday. And today, we learned that five of the seven, including Abdeslam's brother Mohamed, have been released. Now, the investigation is continuing, but that only leaves two in custody. And they are charged with helping a terrorist group. So presumably, that might have something to do with the Paris attacks. We'll have to see how it unfolds.

INSKEEP: OK, that's NPR's Peter Kenyon. He is in Brussels. He's been following a manhunt for one of the suspects in the Paris bombings, as well as, as we've just heard, the arrests or questioning of other people who may or may not be involved. Peter, thanks very much.

KENYON: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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