Paris suspect charged over Brussels shootout
Key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was charged on Thursday with attempted murder over a deadly shootout with police in Brussels a week before the suicide bombings in the Belgian capital, his lawyer and prosecutors said, according to AFP.
An Algerian Islamist suspect was killed and four police officers were wounded in the March 15 shooutout, which led to Abdeslam's arrest three days later.
"He has been charged with attempted murder either alone or jointly" over the gunbattle at an apartment in the southern Forest district of Brussels, lawyer Sven Mary told AFP.
Belgian prosecutors later confirmed the charges against Abdeslam, 26, who is currently awaiting extradition to France.
"Salah Abdeslam has been charged today with attempted murder in the case opened after the gunbattle in Forest during which several police officers were injured," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement quoted by AFP.
"The judge did not make an order for his arrest given that he is already in detention over the attacks in Paris."
Abdeslam, a French national of Moroccan origin who grew up in Belgium, is due to be transferred to France in coming days over the November 13 Paris attacks.
Belgian police have also tried to question him over his links to the three suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport and metro on March 22, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds. Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
In addition to the extradition process, the Obama administration has also designated Abdeslam as a "global terrorist", meaning that sanctions freezing any assets in U.S. jurisdiction and forbidding Americans to do business with him will be imposed.
The shootout last month began after a joint raid by Belgian and French police on an apartment that had been rented under a false name by Khalid El Bakraoui, who one week later would carry out the suicide attack at Maalbeek metro station.
Mohamed Belkaid, an Algerian terror suspect who had been pictured in a car with Abdeslam on the Hungarian border in mid-2015, was shot dead by a police sniper after apparently opening fire on police.
Four police officers -- three Belgian and a Frenchwoman -- were wounded.