The Latest: Belt Found Where Fugitive’s Phone Was Located

New York Times/Associated Press
NOV. 23, 2015, 2:46 P.M. E.S.T.

PARIS — The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris and the heightened security in Europe (All times local):

8:40 p.m.

French police say that an explosive belt without a detonator that was found in Paris was in the same place that fugitive Saleh Abdeslam’s cell phone was localized on the day of the attacks that killed 130 people.

The belt was found Monday by a street cleaner in a pile of rubble in the southern suburb of Montrouge.

The three police officials who gave information about the belt could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

— By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny and Lori Hinnant.


7:35 p.m.

Belgium says that it will keep its alert at the highest level possible in the capital for now and will maintain its security measures to contain a possible attack at least until Monday.

Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters that the rest of the nation would stay at the second-highest level.

Even with the alert level this high, Michel said that schools and the subway system would reopen progressively as of Wednesday.

“We do our utmost to keep the situation under control,” Michel said after a meeting of the national security council.


7:25 p.m.

The Belgian prime minister says that the alert level in Brussels will remain at the highest level for the time being.

However, schools and the Brussels subway will begin to reopen on Wednesday, Charles Michel told a news conference Monday.

“The threat is imminent. We ask our population to stay calm,” he added.


7:25 p.m.

French police say that an explosive belt — a without detonator — has been found in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge.

A police official says the belt was found by a street cleaner on Monday in a pile of rubble.

Police are currently analyzing the belt to see if it may have been used in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, an official for the judicial police said. He could not be named because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.

— By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny


6:55 p.m.

Belgian authorities have charged a fourth suspect with terrorism offenses after they detained 16 people on Sunday.

The federal prosecutor said in a statement that the suspect, who was not identified, was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group and a terrorist attack,” referring to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

Authorities had charged three others with similar offenses last week.

The other 15 people detained on Sunday evening were released.


6:05 p.m.

The French Defense Ministry says it has launched its first airstrikes from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, bombing Islamic State targets in the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul.

The ministry said that four Rafal fighter jets were sent from the carrier on Monday afternoon, with two each flying over each city.

President Francois Hollande said on Monday that “we’re going to choose sites that do the most damage possible.”

France has already carried out strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.


5:30 p.m.

U2 will play two shows in Paris next month to make up for concerts postponed after the Nov. 13 attacks in the city.

Frontman Bono promised Monday that the band would “put on our best for Paris.”

He said in Dublin that the gunmen and bombers who killed 130 people “took lives, took music, took peace of mind — but they couldn’t steal the spirit of that city. It’s a spirit our band knows well and will try to serve when we return for the postponed shows.”

U2 had been due to play Paris Nov. 14 and 15. The Irish rockers will now play two gigs at the city’s AccorHotels Arena on Dec. 6 and 7.

Tickets for the canceled shows will be valid for the rescheduled dates, and the Dec. 7 show is due to be broadcast on HBO.


5:20 p.m.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano says he has ordered the expulsion of four Moroccan men who have been investigated for banding together “for the purpose of terrorism,” including one who spread manuals with know-how about carrying out attacks and about combat training.

In a statement Monday, Alfano described all for as being committed to “the spread of violent extremism.”

Alfano said the four were under investigation for “association for the purpose of terrorism, including international.” He said they were being expelled for reasons of state security.

The four were living near Bologna, and the Italian news agency ANSA said they had been under investigation for a few years.


3:10 p.m.

The International Tennis Federation says the Davis Cup final is set to go ahead as planned in Ghent this weekend with increased security measures because of the terror alert in Belgium.

Belgium hosts Britain in the three-day final, starting Friday. Ghent is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from Brussels, which is on the highest state of alert because of what the Belgian government calls a “serious and imminent” threat.

In a statement, the ITF says it is “taking every necessary step to ensure the safety” of those at the final, implementing additional security measures including a ban on fans carrying bags.

The federation says organizers “in consultation with the relevant officials and our risk assessment and security advisers, are closely monitoring the situation in Belgium and specifically in Ghent.”


1:05 p.m.

Belgian authorities say five more raids in Brussels and eastern Liege have yielded five more detentions.

In all, 21 people have been taken into custody since Sunday while the capital remains under its highest alert level.

The federal prosecutor said in a statement that a BMW sighting near Liege which had rumored to contain Paris fugitive Salah Abdeslam had no links with the ongoing investigation.


12:35 p.m.

The French government says it wants to tighten the rules on the use of prepaid bank cards as part of a crackdown on extremist financing.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin says the aim is to restrict the ability of extremists to use such cards for anonymous money transfers.

He says Europe-wide rules are needed to ensure the user’s identity is checked when they apply for and use the cards.

Sapin said Monday that those who carried out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris used prepaid cards. He didn’t elaborate.

Among other measures, Sapin also outlined a proposal to expand the authorities’ power to freeze the assets of suspects to include real estate and vehicles.


11:30 a.m.

NATO, the world’s biggest military alliance, has adjusted operations at its headquarters in northeastern Brussels in light of the heightened terror alert proclaimed by Belgian authorities.

A NATO official, who was not authorized to make public statements and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Monday some alliance staff members have been asked to work from home, and that external visits and visiting groups scheduled for the day had been canceled.

On Saturday, after Belgian authorities raised the alert level in the Brussels region to the maximum 4 rating, NATO staff members were advised to stay away from public transport and gatherings, the official said. The official said NATO had also raised its own internal alert level, but that “NATO headquarters is working.”

“We remain vigilant and are taking all necessary measures to ensure the security of our staff and premises,” the official said.

—By John-Thor Dahlburg


10:20 p.m.

A closely watched survey has found that the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people are having an immediate negative effect on French businesses.

Financial information company Markit says some service providers have reported that the attacks had “negatively impacted on activity.”

As a result, Markit says its purchasing managers’ index for France — a broad gauge of business activity — fell to a 3-month low in November of 51.3 from 52.6 the previous month. The drop takes the French economy nearer the 50 threshold separating expansion and contraction.

Jack Kennedy, senior economist at Markit, says the longer-term economic impact of the attacks remains “uncertain.”

The French performance contrasts with that of the 19-country eurozone, which according to Markit is expanding at the highest rate in four and a half years.


10:05 a.m.

The Belgian capital Brussels has entered its third day of lockdown, with schools and underground transport shut and more than 1,000 security personnel deployed across the country.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Monday that “investigations will continue until we’ve fixed this problem.”

He told Belgium’s RTL broadcaster that Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam “must have a lot of support on our territory. That’s why all these searches being conducted at the moment are important.”

Security was extra tight in the European quarter of Brussels, especially around the EU institutions where ministerial meetings were going ahead as planned.

Brussels remains at maximum alert over information about an “imminent threat,” possibly a series of coordinated attacks at different locations similar to those in Paris on Nov. 13.


10:00 a.m.

Streets of central Brussels were mostly deserted Monday morning, save for a few random buses and cars — and some army trucks unloading soldiers. Commuters said they understood Belgian authorities’ decision to keep the terror alert at its highest level for a third day running, but said the results gave the capital city an uneasy feeling.

“It feels a bit like a dead city,” said Cedric Verschooten, a government worker who lives in Flanders and was in Brussels for meetings. Verschooten stopped to take a selfie in the empty streets, which he said would normally be teeming with traffic.

Brussels resident Ligea Salazar said she was very afraid there could be a Paris-style attack on Brussels. Despite the increased police and military presence, she wasn’t reassured.

“I don’t think they really know what’s going on,” she said. “They released too many people after arresting them.” Salazar said she had to walk to work today because the subways weren’t running — and was late as a result. “I like to walk but it is nice to have the choice to take the Metro.”


9:55 a.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will seek parliamentary approval this week for Britain to join U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Syria.

Cameron also offered the use of a British air base in Cyprus for anti-IS actions in Syria.

Speaking in Paris on Monday after meeting French President Francois Hollande, Cameron said the two leaders agreed to increase counterterrorism cooperation after the attacks. He called for greater European Union-wide efforts to share intelligence to stop extremists.


9:20 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have visited the Bataclan concert venue in central Paris, which saw the worst carnage of the attacks that killed 130 people.

Hollande and Cameron were meeting Monday in Paris as the French leader presses for a stronger international coalition against Islamic State. He is headed to Washington and Moscow later in the week.

The decision to head to the Bataclan was not announced in advance and came amid tight security in both Paris and Brussels, home to many of the men identified as suspects in the Nov. 13 attack.

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