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Paris Suspect Among 'Several' Arrests in Belgium, Prosecutors Say

by Cassandra Vinograd, Nancy Ing and Alastair Jamieson /  / Updated 

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BRUSSELS — A suspect in last year's terror attack in Paris was among several people arrested Friday in Belgium, the federal prosecutor's office said.

Mohamed Abrini, 31, was taken into custody following five months on the run, a spokesman for the Belgium prosecutor told reporters in an evening news conference.

The arrest marks a big potential break in the Paris investigation and the search for those responsible for the March 22 attacks in Brussels, in which 32 people died in bombings at the city’s airport and on its metro system. Some suspects have been linked to both attacks.

Abrini had been wanted for the Paris attacks after he was filmed on security footage at a gas station with Salah Abdeslam, one of the alleged Paris attackers, just two days before the massacres in France, authorities said. Abrini was driving a Renault Clio later used by the Paris attackers, prosecutors have said.

Abdeslam was captured four days before the attacks in Brussels.

Abrini's arrest came a day after police released new images showing the “man in white” linked to the airport attack in Brussels and appealed for help from the public in tracing his escape from the scene.

The prosecutor's spokesman said investigators are trying to determine whether Abrini was the "man in white."

Related: Bodies of Americans Killed in Brussels Given Police Escort

Four other suspects were arrested Friday, authorities said. They included included Osama Kareym, who’d also been seen with Abdeslam before the Paris attacks, the prosecutor's spokesman said. Investigators are trying to determine whether Kareym took part in the bombing on the Brussels subway, the spokesman said. He'd been seen with subway bomber Khaled El Bakraoui and bought bags used in the airport bombings, the spokesman said.

Belgian officials refused to discuss the number of tips they had received after their Thursday appeal.

"We are not saying anything because we don't want to spook the possible suspects still at large. The less they know the better," Federal prosecutor's spokesman Eric Van der Sypt told NBC News Friday. "We don't want the suspects to know the nature of the calls and panic."

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