November 14, 2015 / 6:38 PM / 4 years ago

Belgian prosecutors open anti-terror investigation after Paris attacks

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian prosecutors opened an anti-terrorist investigation and police arrested at least three people in a district of Brussels on Saturday, following a wave of killings in Paris claimed by the Islamic State.

Belgian police officers patrol at Gare du Midi/Zuidstation railway station in Brussels, Belgium, November 14, 2015, after the attacks in Paris on Friday. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Belgian federal prosecutors said police had arrested at least three people in Molenbeek, a poor district of Brussels, in an operation focused on a car rented in Belgium and found near Paris’s Bataclan concert hall, where gunmen killed more than 80 people on Friday night.

The Belgian prosecutors declined to comment on whether those arrested were previously known to authorities or whether any of them were in Paris on Friday.

At least two of those killed in the Paris attacks were Belgian and therefore the court had appointed a Brussels anti-terrorist judge to investigate, a statement said.

Earlier, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said “multiple searches and arrests” had been made without specifying numbers.

France’s neighbor Belgium is home to half a million Muslims, largely of French-speaking North African descent, among its 11 million people.

It has been connected with previous terror attacks on French soil.

Following the attacks on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish store in January, Belgian authorities detained a man for arms dealing.

An Islamist militant gunman involved in a thwarted attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris in August boarded the train in Brussels, prosecutors said.

A French national is facing trial in Brussels following a shooting at the city’s Jewish Museum that left four dead.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Saturday told Belgians not to travel to Paris unless absolutely necessary, while also announcing additional security controls in Belgium, including at borders and at public events.

Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson

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