Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel canceled a planned event with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday as a sting operation to grab a “big fish” got underway in the Schaerbeek neighborhood in Brussels. Police captured Abderamane A. near a tram stop with a backpack that looked “suspicious.”
Witnesses who were in their homes near the scene at the time told The Wall Street Journal they heard two gunshots. Police shot the suspect in the leg when he refused a directive to hand over his backpack and lie down. The suspect was arrested and taken into custody, the witnesses said.
The backpack was detonated by a bomb-disposal robot, which produced a small a small bang, they said. A girl who was with him was unharmed. Her relationship was unclear.
Another suspect shot by Belgian police, Tawfik A. had resisted arrest during a house raid on Friday. He was connected to 34-year-old Frenchman Reda Kriket, a terrorist arrested a day earlier in France. A second suspect connected to Kriket, Rabah N., was also arrested Friday, without gunfire. Tawfik A. was reported released on Saturday, WSJ reported.
Kriket was linked to Abdel-hamid Abaaoud, suspected ringleader of the Nov.13 Paris massacre. Kriket had been convicted in absentia in Belgium last year along with Abaaoud.
Kriket was also allegedly in the advanced stage of planning another attack when he was captured last week . Police said they discovered weapons and explosives in his suburban Paris apartment.
Authorities said they have identified 24 of the 31 victims of last week’s attacks in Brussels; of the 340 wounded, 101 are still hospitalized.
Hana Levi Julian