Key Paris attacks suspect had 'holiday' in Austria

Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam (pictured) was stopped while travelling with two other men in Austria on Sept 9.
Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam (pictured) was stopped while travelling with two other men in Austria on Sept 9.PHOTO: AFP/POLICE NATIONALE

VIENNA (AFP) - Wanted Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was in Austria in September, telling police after arriving from Germany with two men that he was "on holiday", Austrian authorities said on Tuesday (Nov 17).

The younger brother of Brahim Abdeslam, who blew himself up in Friday's attacks, was stopped in their car on September 9 "and said that he wanted to spend a week's holiday in Austria," the interior ministry said.

All three were allowed to continue their journey after the routine traffic check. The two other men "have so far not been named in connection" with the Paris attacks, the ministry said in a statement.

"Investigations are currently ongoing regarding where the suspect spent time in Austria and the purpose of his stay," it said.

Salah Abdeslam, 26, is being sought by French investigators who have issued a photograph of him - describing him as "dangerous" - while Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant.

The French citizen living in Belgium allegedly hired a black Polo, registered in Belgium, which was found near the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, where three attackers killed 89 people.

Brussels police on Monday surrounded a property in Brussels' impoverished Molenbeek district, seen as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, but did not find him.

A third brother, Mohamed Abdeslam was arrested in Molenbeek on Saturday, but released without charge on Monday with his lawyer saying her client had an alibi and was not in Paris on Friday evening.