Dutch police hold three but no link to Paris attacks

20th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Rotterdam police have arrested three Belgian men after finding a suspicious car with a Belgian licence plate, but Friday ruled out a link to the hunt for a key fugitive in the Paris attacks.

The men were held after behaving suspiciously near a parked white Mercedes in the port city late Thursday, Rotterdam police said, adding they were still in custody.

"After an extensive search of the car, no suspected items were found, except for Fa small amount of drugs," the police said in a statement.

"Three Belgian men, aged 20, 22 and 23 are still in police custody," they added.

The Dutch justice ministry had quickly ruled out any link to the European hunt for a key suspect in last week's Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, who remains on the run.

There was "no extensive search" for Abdeslam underway in the Netherlands, ministry spokesman Jean Fransman told AFP.

Police said outspoken Muslim mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, had been sitting in a nearby restaurant late Thursday and was moved away as a precaution.

His spokesman told the NOS public newscaster that the mayor "was fine and there was no cause for concern".

Abdeslam is thought to be one of the only surviving members of the group of assailants behind the November 13 attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people.

His suicide-bomber brother Brahim Abdeslam blew himself up at a cafe in the French capital without killing anyone.

The Islamic State jihadist, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected of orchestrating the attacks was killed in a major police raid in northern Paris on Wednesday, French prosecutors have confirmed.

Salah Abdeslam had been briefly held and fined in the Netherlands in February for possession of cannabis, Dutch police said Wednesday.

But he was allowed to continue on his way after paying a 70 euro ($75) fine, the police said.


© 2015 AFP

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