British authorities said Friday that at least five people have been arrested as part of expanding counterterrorism probes following last month’s attacks in Brussels.
A senior police official, Marcus Beale, said the arrests were made in coordination with French and Belgian security agencies, but gave no immediate details on the suspects or potential charges.
But British media, citing police sources, have reported that at least two suspects linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks traveled last year to Birmingham in central Britain and took photographs of various sites, including a soccer stadium.
Raids and arrests have been conducted across Europe as authorities seek to piece together an apparent terrorist web linked to the Brussels blasts that killed 32 people and November’s rampage in Paris that claimed 130 lives. The Islamic State has asserted responsibility for both attacks.
British officials said three men and a woman were taken into custody late Thursday in Birmingham. Police later searched several apartments in the city. A fifth person was detained early Friday at Gatwick Airport outside London, the Reuters news agency reported.
Birmingham has come under greater scrutiny following reports of visits last year by two high-profile figures: Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested last week, and alleged Paris attack plotter Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed by French police days after the attacks.
Belgian authorities say Abrini, 31, was the “man in the hat” seen walking alongside two of the suicide bombers at the Brussels airport. He also was spotted traveling from Belgium to France with the suspected Paris attackers.
Last month, Britain Home Secretary Theresa May declined to give specifics about reports on Abaaoud’s possible activities in Birmingham, but noted that British investigators were working “very closely with the Belgian authorities.”
Meanwhile, Belgium’s transport minister, Jacqueline Galant, resigned Friday amid the fallout from a European Union report that criticized security protocols at Belgian airports long before the March 22 attacks.
The confidential report, released by two Belgian opposition parties, cited shortcomings in the way Belgian airports handled safety checks.
James McAuley in Paris contributed to this report.