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23 Nov, 2015 18:38

Explosive belt without detonator found outside Paris – reports

Explosive belt without detonator found outside Paris – reports

A suspicious object resembling a suicide belt has been found in Montrouge, a commune in the southern Parisian suburbs. Police sources told AP that the device was missing its detonator but contained “bolts” and the “same explosives” used in the Paris terror attacks.

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The belt, similar to those used in the terrorist attacks in Paris, was found in the rubbish in Hauts-de-Seine, Montrouge, according to local police forces as cited by radio channel France Info.

It looks like a belt of explosives,” a source close to the investigation told Reuters, adding that checks are currently underway.

Laboratory analysis showed that the explosive material inside the vest found on Monday was the same used in seven other explosive vests that terrorists detonated during a series of attacks in France, a French police official told AP on the condition of anonymity.

The suspicious object was spotted by a street cleaner. The area was immediately cordoned off by police.

The mobile phone of terrorist fugitive Salah Abdeslam, who stayed alive and managed to slip past French security forces after the Paris attacks, was found in the town of Chatillon, which is next to Montrouge, Reuters reported.

Abdeslam has been on the run since the attacks. French police initially though he was driving a black Seat Leon that was seen during the street shooting in the 10th and 11th districts of the capital, according to Reuters.

However, his mobile phone was later detected in the northern 18th district of Paris near an abandoned Renault Clio, which he had rented, a source close to the investigation told Reuters.

The “strong suspicion” was backed by the statement made by Islamic State after the attacks. It claimed that it had targeted the Stade de France soccer stadium, the Bataclan concert hall, the 10th and 11th districts, as well as the 18th district, where there were no attacks on November 13.

Later on, the mobile phone was detected in the town of Chatillon.

However, it is too soon to jump to the conclusion that it was Abdeslam who dumped the belt, the source noted.

“The thesis that he abandoned (the attack) is just coming from people who brought him back (to Belgium). But we don't know why. Maybe he had a technical problem with his explosive belt, for example,” a police source said.

This happens as France, together with Belgium, steps up counter-terrorism security precautions.

In Belgium, the metro and schools are set to reopen only on Wednesday since there remains an imminent threat of Paris-style attacks in Brussels, Belgian authorities said on Monday, Reuters reported.

Belgium’s capital remains under the highest alert level, four, while in the rest of the country it is placed at three.

We are still confronted with the threat we were facing yesterday,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference. The potential targets for attacks are shopping malls, main shopping streets and public transport.

"We want progressively to return to normality... schools in Brussels will open on Wednesday and the metro on Wednesday as well. For the metro it could be in a progressive way," he added.