Updated at 9:23 p.m.
French authorities launched a manhunt for a possible eighth participant in the terrorist attacks that struck Paris on Friday, killing 129 people and wounding more than 350 others. Investigators also began releasing information about some of the seven known attackers, as police and intelligence agencies try to piece together the details behind one of the deadliest attacks in Western Europe since the end of World War II.
France’s Police Nationale issued a nationwide alert Sunday for Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old man from Brussels, who they said was “likely to be involved” in the Paris attacks.
In the chaotic initial hours of the attacks, reports from police officials suggested the involvement of eight perpetrators, seven of whom had detonated suicide belts. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins subsequently announced during a Saturday press conference that seven suicide bombers working in three teams had been killed.
The Associated Press reported that Abdeslam eluded capture during an encounter with French law enforcement shortly after the attacks:
Yet police already had him in their grasp early Saturday, when they stopped a car carrying three men near the Belgian border. By then, hours had passed since authorities identified Abdeslam as the renter of a Volkswagen Polo that carried hostage takers to the Paris theater where so many died.
Three French police officials and a top French security official confirmed that officers let Abdeslam go after checking his ID. They spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorization to publicly disclose such details.
Abdeslam is one of three brothers who have become the focus of the investigation, Le Monde reported Sunday. According to the French newspaper, Salah’s brother Ibrahim detonated his suicide belt on the Boulevard Voltaire during the attacks. Two of the brothers also reportedly rented two vehicles in Belgium that have been recovered in Paris. One of the cars, a Volkswagen Polo, was found near the Bataclan, where three of the attackers killed several dozen concertgoers. A third brother was reportedly among the seven people arrested by Belgian officials in Molenbeek on Saturday in connection with the attacks.