Police officials in Belgium arrested two people Sunday after a raid at a home in the central part of the capital city of Brussels, for connections with the terror attacks in Paris last month. However, officials said the arrested did not include Belgian fugitive Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to have escaped following the attacks that killed 130 people.
The raid lasted five hours in a building in the outskirts of Molenbeek area, just about a mile from Brussels' central Grand Place square, a popular tourist area, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Molenbeek has a large immigrant population. Police officials evacuated pedestrians in the vicinity during the raid Sunday, which began at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. EST). Both men were to be taken to a judge Monday, to decide if they could be held for longer, Reuters reported.
"They (the arrested men) have been taken in for questioning," Eric Van Der Sypt, spokesman for the federal prosecutor, said, according to AFP, adding that further details about the arrest will be released later Monday.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, which cited local news reports, the arrested suspects were in contact with the alleged Paris attackers using two phones. A text message was sent from the attackers to someone in Belgium that said “action” was underway. Investigators suspect that the person with the cell phones may have been the one coordinating the attacks. However, the arrested brothers arrested Sunday were not believed to have been handling the mobile phones.
The Belgian fugitive, Abdeslam, 26, allegedly played a direct role in the coordinated attacks at six locations across Paris. The Islamic State Group claimed responsibility for the attack. An international search is ongoing for Abdeslam, who is believed to have escaped to Syria, a report said earlier this month.
Abdeslam is suspected of helping the Paris attackers by renting one of the cars used to drive the suicide bombers to Stade de France. He is also suspected to have bought detonators, costing less than $11 each, at a fireworks shop. Earlier Sunday, a source close to the investigation said that Abdeslam crossed three police checkpoints with the help of his friends, who drove him out of Paris into Brussels, following the attack.
Belgium has so far arrested eight people, suspecting them of plotting or being linked to the Paris attacks, AFP reported.