Salah Abdeslam 'backed out of stadium bombing' during Paris attacks


The prime suspect over autumn's deadly Paris terror attacks had planned to kill himself in the atrocities but backed out at the last moment, prosecutors have revealed.

Salah Abdeslam had intended to be a suicide bomber at the city's main sports stadium but pulled out at the last minute.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Abdeslam told Belgian investigators he abandoned his suicide vest on November 13 after driving other attackers to Paris for the attacks.

The 26-year-old was captured during a major police operation in Brussels on Friday. He was shot in the leg during his arrest but was discharged from hospital on Saturday morning.

No explanation has been given for why he abandoned his role in the attacks, which saw 130 people killed at several venues across the French capital.

Abdeslam, a French national, is subject to a European arrest warrant issued by France, but his lawyer Sven Mary has said he will fight extradition.

Belgian authorities have officially charged him and another man who was using two aliases "with participation in terrorist murder" and in the activities of a terrorist organisation.

The country's prime minister Charles Michel confirmed that Abdeslam had been captured after heavily armed officers stormed a building in Brussels' Molenbeek district.

He said two other men were also held in the operation in a part of the city that some of the Paris attackers, including suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, were from.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said the arrest was a "major blow" to Islamic State in Europe and said he hopes Abdeslam can be brought to France to face justice.

But Interpol has urged countries to be vigilant with their border controls, warning his capture may encourage any of his accomplices still at large to try to flee Europe.

Secretary General Jurgen Stock said: "Belgium is to be congratulated on the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, but this is just one piece in a larger puzzle.

"Whilst it is too soon to speculate in which direction the investigation will proceed, anyone linked to Abdeslam will be concerned that their location could be revealed and attempt to run to try and avoid detection.

"It is now vital that countries continue to co-operate and make thorough checks against the information available to them to avoid suspects slipping through the net."

French president Francois Hollande has warned there will be more arrests as authorities work to dismantle the network behind the attacks.