Incredible images show the world’s most wanted man being wrestled to the ground after the fugitive behind the Paris massacre was shot in the leg during a police raid in Belgium.

Salah Abdeslam, 26, who went on the run after taking part in the massacre of 130 in Paris in November, was arrested following the raid on his hideout in the Molenbeek district of Brussels.


Salah Abdeslam

Footage showed a man in a white hoodie, later confirmed to be Abdeslam, trying to run past dozens of armed police officers after fleeing his bolthole.

Five suspects, including three that harboured Abdeslam, were arrested and police found numerous weapons and ammunition in their hideout, a French prosecutor has confirmed.

‘This evening is a success in the fight against terrorism,’ Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced this evening.

He held a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande who stressed the battle against extremism in western Europe is far from over.

He said: ‘It is not the final conclusion of this story because there have been arrests already and there will have to be more.

‘We know the terrorists’ network was widespread in Belgium, France, and other countries in Europe, too.

‘Until we have arrested all of those who took part, organised and financed the network that carried out the abominable attacks in Paris, our fight will not be over.

‘We have to go on with our efforts because we are aware there are still connections that lead us to Syria, where the Daesh [ISIS] group wanted these attacks to be organised. It is from Syria that a number of these actors of this atrocity [Paris attacks] started.’

Hollande confirmed he has asked for Belgium to extradite Abdeslam to his country, adding: I’m certain of the extradition procedures and I believe he [Abdeslam] should be interrogated and punished in France.’

‘We got him,’ France’s minister for asylum and migration Theo Francken triumphantly announced as a video of Abdeslam being dragged away by police emerged.

Police with riot shields cordoned off the area where Abdeslam was arrested and began evacuating locals earlier tonight. They are thought to have continued their operation following his capture.

TV cameras filmed a series of explosions and the sound of fresh gunfire in the area at around 6.20pm, more than two hours after the arrest, as police continued to search for suspects after Abdeslam was arrested.

Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found at the scene of another police raid on a Brussels flat on Tuesday, prosecutors said earlier today.

He was believed to have been involved in the Bataclan massacre during the slaughter of 130 people in Paris in November, was said to be one of the suspects who went on the run after a shoot-out.

But he was tracked to a home in Molenbeek in a fresh raid conducted by police this afternoon. Special forces are understood to have been monitoring the house for at least 48 hours.

It is understood grenades were used in the operation, which unfolded at about 4.30pm.

Gun shots and explosions were heard while white smoke was seen in the area as police moved in on Abdeslam, who had been on the run for 126 days.

Emergency services were quick to arrive at the scene which was shut down by officers wearing heavy riot gear.

Abdeslam was wounded, and then retreated into a house in Molenbeek with two men. At least one of the other men is wounded, and one may be dead, said the source.

It is thought that Abdeslam suffered a ‘flesh wound’ after escaping Tuesday’s raid before retreating to Molenbeek, where he was born and brought up. He has been taken to hospital.

A French television station later posted an image of the moment the terror suspect was arrested.

A lawyer for the families of those who lost their lives in the Paris massacre have demanded that he is extradited to France immediately.

Mr Michel was seen rushing out of a European Council summit in Brussels as news of the raid broke.

EU leaders are meeting in the Belgian capital, just five miles away from where the anti-terror operation was taking place in Molenbeek.

Francois Hollande, who is in Brussels for the EU summit, confirmed that today’s police operation was linked to last November’s attacks on Paris.

Despite Abdeslam’s arrest, the police operation was continuing this evening and the army is on the scene, which is near two schools.

Two men are still believed to be holed up in a building in the area and drones are being used as part of the police operation.

Fire engines and ambulances were seen driving into the gated complex, which remains under armed police guard, and a helicopter hovered overhead.

In addition to Abdeslam, the whereabouts of two Paris attack suspects remains unknown, including fellow Molenbeek resident Mohamed Abrini and a man known under the alias of Soufiane Kayal.

The building is owned by the local municipality. The flat where he was arrested is believed to have been rented by the same person since 2009, according to RTBF.

Criminal lawyer Sven Mary is said to have accepted the role of defending Abdeslam.

He was contacted on Abdeslam’s behalf as early as January this year, asking whether he would be willing to defend the terror suspect, it has been reported.

It came after the Belgian lawyer told daily newspaper Le Soir in late December: ‘If Salah Abdeslam begged me tomorrow, I would accept the role of being his lawyer.’

But the lawyer denied claims that he has already discussed the possibility with Abdeslam himself.

‘I have been in contact with someone from his immediate surroundings,’ the lawyer said, reported Belgian news site Standaard.

‘I want to speak directly with Abdeslam. You must have some sort of contact with the ones you defend, there should be a mutual trust.’

This afternoon, the White House revealed that the US had been helping French and Belgian authorities to boost security since November’s Paris attacks, and that this would continue.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House used its ‘significant resources and significant capabilities’ to assist the French and the Belgians.

He added: ‘They have taken steps to try to safeguard their country. We’re going to continue to stay in close touch with them on this.’

Salah’s brother Brahim, who blew himself p in the November Paris attacks, was buried on Thursday in a Brussels cemetery.

Referring to the police operation earlier this week, in which one Islamic gunman was shot dead by a police sniper, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF had said this morning: ‘According to our information, it is more than likely that he is one of the two individuals who escaped during the shootout.’

It was not the first time Abdeslam had evaded police.

It is believed he stayed in Schaerbeek, Belgium, for some weeks following the attacks in the French capital before being tracked down by police today.

Eric Van der Sypt said the fugitive may have been at the property for ‘days, weeks or months’.

Surveillance footage at a petrol station showed him returning by car to Belgium a day after the Paris attacks.

He also avoided capture when French police checked his papers shortly before he was listed as wanted. Authorities had been searching for him ever since.

Abdeslam was thought to have been the logistic coordinator who rented cars and equipped the gunmen and suicide bombers who targeted bars, restaurants and a music hall in Paris and may have taken part himself.

Last month a source close to the French inquiry said no DNA from Abdeslam had been found on a suicide belt discovered in the French capital.

The explosive belt was found in a dustbin in the southern Parisian suburb of Montrouge on November 23.

Telephone data placed Abdeslam in the same area just after the attacksbut the lack of DNA on the belt suggested that he had not worn it.

Since mid-November, 11 people have been arrested and charged in Belgium in connection with the killings, with eight remaining in custody.

Meanwhile, it was revealed today that an Algerian killed during the anti-terror raid in Brussels earlier this week is on a list of ISIS fighters leaked last week.

The 35-year-old Algerian identified as Mohamed Belkaid, who was living illegally in Belgium, had volunteered to commit a suicide bomb attack, according to the Dutch speaking TV channel VRT.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor declined to comment on the report.

Sky News last week claimed to have obtained documents containing the names of 22,000 members of ISIS.

According to the VRT report, Belkaid fought in Syria from April 19, 2014 alongside the ISIS jihadists. He went by the nom de guerre Abou Abdel Aziz al-Jazayri (the Algerian).

After his return from Syria, he is believed to have passed through Sweden, the TV channel added.

Belkaid was killed by a police sniper while trying to shoot at police during a chaotic gun battle on Tuesday in the quiet Forest district in southern Brussels.

Next to his body were found an IS flag, a Kalashnikov and a book on Salafism, an extreme form of Islam, investigators said.

Belkaid had been unknown to Belgian authorities except for a case of minor theft in 2014, authorities said.

How Salah Abdeslam became the world’s most wanted man after Paris massacre–but escaped the clutches of police three times

Salah Abdeslam became the world’s most wanted man after the Paris attacks in November last year.

The 26-year-old is a Belgian-born Morocco-Frenchman and grew up in the Belgian town of Molenbeek.

He worked for two years as a railway mechanic and in the family business including at a bar set up by his brother Brahim.

Abeslam was reportedly childhood friends with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man dubbed as the ‘Belgian’ mastermind of the Paris attacks.

The pair spent time in jail for armed robbery and it is there that it is believed they became radicalised.

When his brother Brahim tried to travel to Syria, he was stopped and Abdeslam was questioned by police.

Belgian prosecutors later admitted they knew he had been radicalised but didn’t flag them up as a security threat to France.

For his part in the attacks on Paris, which killed 130, Abdeslam is thought to have rented the cars, the attackers used to drive to the various locations to gun people down.

He was described as being the logistics manager and also organised hotels, flats and ammunition.

On the night if the attacks, he was caught on CCTV outside a cafe that was targeted.

His brother Brahim blew himself up outside the Comptoir Voltaire brasserie in the 11th arrondissement

Later, officers pulled over Abdelsam on Saturday morning on the A2 motorway between Paris and Brussels but checked his ID and let him go.

He was travelling with two other people, just hours after he abandoned a car containing three Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles on the outskirts of the French capital.

Detectives soon realised their blunder when they discovered that Abdeslam had rented VW Polo abandoned near the scene of the massacre inside the Bataclan theatre.

However, by the time they alerted Belgian authorities the terror suspect had abandoned the car in Molenbeek, Brussels, an area known as the ‘jihadi capital of Europe’ and disappeared.

An international manhunt was launched.

In the days after the attacks, Belgian security forces staged several raids in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, where he lived, which has served as a haven for several jihadists in recent decades.

But there was no sign of him and he remained on the run for over four months.

It is believed he stayed in Schaerbeek, Belgium, for some weeks following the attacks in the French capital before being tracked down by police today

Eric Van der Sypt said the fugitive may have been at the property for ‘days, weeks or months’.

Surveillance footage at a petrol station showed him returning by car to Belgium a day after the Paris attacks.

He also avoided capture when French police checked his papers shortly before he was listed as wanted. Authorities have been searching for him ever since.

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