French President Francois Hollande has said the capture of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam is a major victory, but warned the fight against terrorism is not over.
Europe’s most wanted man was “caught alive” on Friday after being wounded in dramatic police raid in Belgium’s capital Brussels.
“The battle against terrorism does not end tonight, even though this is a victory,” Mr Hollande told a news conference in Brussels with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
The French leader said more people were involved in the November attacks than previously thought, adding that authorities would track down everyone who in any way allowed, organised or facilitated the attacks.
He said Paris would also request Abdeslam’s extradition from Belgium “as rapidly as possible”.
Announcing the capture, Belgium’s asylum minister Theo Francken declared, “We got him”.
Abdeslam, 26, suffered leg injuries before being arrested during a major police operation in the Molenbeek suburb.
At least 10 shots were heard, grenades launched and police helicopters hovered overhead, while fire engines waited in the street.
White smoke could be seen rising above the building, as police with snarling dogs drove crowds in the streets back away from the scene.
About three hours after Abdeslam’s arrest, two blasts were heard, before a further suspect – who was still holed up – was detained.
In all, Abdeslam was one of five people arrested in the series of raids, which came after a tip-off to police.
Two of the suspects, including Abdeslam, were injured.
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Three of those arrested are being held on suspicion of sheltering Abdeslam and an accomplice.
Abdeslam and one of his accomplices have since left hospital, according to Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur, without saying where they were taken.
The shootout comes after Belgian authorities said that fingerprints in a Brussels apartment raided earlier this week belonged to Abdeslam.
A man shot dead in that raid is believed to have been an accomplice of Abdeslam, Belgian prosecutors said on Friday.
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Sky’s Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said that Abdeslam could prove to be “a goldmine of intelligence”.
Survivors of the attack at the Bataclan venue in Paris reacted to news of the arrest.
Lydia Berkennou said: “I don’t know why, but deep down in my heart, I knew one of them was him.
“I knew because I didn’t think he would’ve managed to go back to Syria … I knew he was hiding somewhere.”
Back in November it was reported that Abdeslam had reportedly returned to Brussels with a suicide vest.
A police source had told The Sunday Times of fears “there is a walking bomb” in the Belgian capital.
The source said Abdeslam may have become “trapped and desperate” since fleeing the bloodshed which killed 130 people.
After the Paris attacks, reports emerged of a row between Abdeslam and his brother Brahim, on the night before the massacre.
One of their friends told a French documentary he heard one of the brothers telling the other that he was “not going” without money, although it is unclear whether they were fighting about going to Paris.
Brahim, 31, eventually blew himself up outside a cafe, injuring 15 people, during the co-ordinated attacks.
Abdeslam was also filmed outside a cafe on the night of the massacre, pointing his gun at two women hiding under outside tables.
The women can be seen running for safety after Abdeslam’s gun does not go off.