A device which appears to be a belt of explosives has been found discarded in a pile of rubbish in a suburb south of Paris. Investigators believe it may have been abandoned by the last remaining fugitive terrorist involved in the attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people ten days ago.
The belt was discovered by bin men in Montrouge, south of Paris, on a residential street near to student accommodation. A police source has told Reuters: “it looks like a belt of explosives.” Police experts are currently investigating its composition.
François Molins, the chief Paris prosecutor, has told reporters that all of the terrorists involved in the shootings had been equipped with belts packed with “improvised nitrogen peroxide explosive, batteries and a push-button detonator, along with metal bolts to amplify the shock wave of the explosion,” The Times has reported. He added that the vest found at Montrouge resembled those devices.
The location of the find is close to that of escapee terrorist Salah Abdeslam on the night of the November 13 attacks. Following the terror raid, Abdeslam’s mobile phone was detected first in the 18th district in the north of Paris, then later in Chatillon, a suburb near Montrouge.
There has been speculation that Abdeslam abandoned the belt due to a failure to detonate, or because he lost his nerve and failed to go through with the plan. The latter theory is supported by initial claims from Islamic State that they had carried out an attack on the 18th district, when in fact none occurred. His colleagues detonated their belts only to avoid being caught.
Abdeslam allegedly drove three of his accomplices to the Stade de France, where they went on to blow themselves up. He may have taken part in the shootings at restaurants in Paris, before calling friends from Belgium to come and pick him up.
Brussels is now in its fourth day of lockdown as Belgian police continue to search for Abdeslam and his associates, although the French authorities have said he could be anywhere in Europe, Turkey or Syria.