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Salah Abdeslam, Mastermind of Paris Attacks, Arrested in Molenbeek, Belgium

The most wanted man in Europe, who helped organize the November massacre claimed by the Islamic State group, has been captured in his hometown.

by VICE News
Mar 18 2016, 4:55pm

Belgian security forces seal off an area during the anti-terror operation in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, 18 March 2016, that led to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam. Photo by Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

The man thought to be one of the masterminds of the November 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, has been captured during a major police operation in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, a hotbed of Muslim radicalism. According to the Belgian justice minister, quoted by Reuters, he was captured by police: "We got him," the minister said.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, a spokesperson for Belgium's federal prosecutor's office announced that a total of five people — including Abdeslam — had been arrested. One of the men arrested — known as Amine Choukri — was lightly wounded in the operation. The police have also detained three members of the family that was hiding Abdeslam.

Earlier today, several news outlets — including BFMTV — released images of a person being detained during the raid.

Speaking at a joint press conference earlier today, French president François Hollande and Belgian prime minister Charles Michel confirmed that police had arrested Abdeslam and two accomplices during the operation. They did not identify the accomplices.

According to Belgian news outlets, two people have been wounded in the operation, and were barricaded inside a house in the area. Belgian media reported that Abdeslam, the most wanted man in Europe after allegedly helping organize the attacks, which killed 130 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group, has been wounded in the operation.

The current operation comes two days after a joint intervention team of French and Belgian police officers raided an apartment in the Forest district of Brussels. Four officers were wounded and one gunman was killed during Tuesday's raid, and two others who were in the apartment are believed to be still at large.

A spokesperson for the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's office told AFP that fingerprints belonging to Abdeslam were found in the apartment. Several news outlets have published reports that Abdeslam may have been one of the people who managed to flee the scene Tuesday.

The person who was killed in Tuesday's raid was identified as Mohamed Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian national who was in Belgium illegally.