20 Mar 2016

Paris terror suspect 'changed suicide bomb plan'

1:51 pm on 20 March 2016

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has said he wanted to blow himself up but then changed his mind, a French prosecutor says.

Salah Abdeslam is suspected of being among the assailants who killed about 130 people in Paris on Friday 13 November.

Salah Abdeslam Photo: AFP

Mr Abdeslam has been charged with terrorism offences in Belgium a day after he was seized in a dramatic raid.

He will fight extradition to France but has been co-operating with police, his lawyer says.

The Paris attacks in November left 130 people dead and dozens injured.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the bombings and shootings.

Mr Abdeslam has been charged with participation in terrorist murder and the activities of a terrorist group, Belgium's federal prosecutor's office said.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference: "Salah Abdeslam today during questioning by [Belgian] investigators affirmed that, and I quote, 'he wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and that he had backed down'."

Mr Abdeslam's assertions should be treated with caution, he added.

The 26-year-old French national, born in Belgium, is in custody following his arrest in Brussels on Friday (Saturday NZT) after four months on the run.

Investigators hope Mr Abdeslam, who was shot in the leg during his arrest, will reveal more information about the IS network behind the Paris attacks, its financing and plans.

They believe he helped with logistics, including renting rooms and driving suicide bombers to the Stade de France.

Mr Abdeslam is believed to have fled shortly after the attacks, returning to the Molenbeek district of Brussels.

Interpol has meanwhile urged "extra vigilance" at borders following Friday's Brussels raid, saying more accomplices may try to flee Europe.

Along with the Stade de France, the Paris bombings and shootings in November targeted the Bataclan concert hall and bars and restaurants.

Officials have identified most of the people they believe to have carried out the assaults and, on Friday, French President Francois Hollande predicted that more arrests could follow.

Most of the suspects either died during the attacks or were killed in subsequent police raids.

-BBC

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