Belgian Police Launch Major Operation To Find Key Suspect Linked to Paris Attacks

Updated: Belgian police launched a major operation in the Brussels area on Monday to find the eighth suspected attacker in the Paris attacks but it concluded without any arrests, a Belgian prosecutor told AFP news agency.

Police surrounded a house in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where several suspects linked to the attacks are believed to have lived. A spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor confirmed that the operation was focused on the suspect named Salah Abdeslam.

There were conflicting reports over claims that Abdeslam had been arrested in the raid but Belgian prosecutors told AFP that the operation is now over and concluded without any arrests being made.

On Sunday, French police identified Abdeslam, a 26-year-old born in Brussels, as a suspect in the gun and bomb attacks that left at least 129 people dead in the French capital. He is suspected of hiring a car in Belgium that was used by one of the groups of attackers to carry out its suicide operation on Paris's Bataclan concert venue.

Police officers reportedly questioned Abdeslam on Friday after the attacks but released him. French authorities believe that two of his brothers were also directly involved in the attack, one who detonated a suicide bomb at the Bataclan concert venue.

Meanwhile, Belgian police have released five out of the seven people detained on suspicion of links to the attackers in Paris over the weekend, including one brother of Abdeslam. Mohamed Abdeslam was freed "without being charged," a spokesman for Belgian prosecutors told AFP news agency.

At least two of the cars used by the attackers were hired in Belgium, a Belgian prosecutor told AFP news agency on Sunday.

French police raided 168 locations across the country and detained 23 people overnight, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Monday.

This report has been updated with the information that no arrests were made in the Belgian police operation.