A suicide bomber’s explosive belt was tonight found dumped in the southern Paris suburb from where terrorist fugitive Salah Abdeslam escaped the city.
The 26-year-old fled the bloodbath that left 130 dead on November 13 rather than blowing himself up.
Tonight’s find in a dustbin in Montrouge, in the Hauts-de-Seine department, is hugely significant because it supports the theory that Abdeslam abandoned his mission.
Police said the belt contained bolts and the same explosive chemicals as those used on the attacks on the French capital.
It comes as one of 16 people arrested in Brussels last night was charged with terror offences relating to the Paris attacks. The rest were released without charge.
A French police source said: ‘The belt was found in a dustbin, and is said to be very similar to those worn by the Paris terrorists. Its detonator had been removed.
‘The area around the dustbin has been sealed off, and bomb disposal experts are in the area.
‘Judicial police are at the scene, together with forensics experts and anti-terrorist officers.’
The explosive belt was found to contain TATP, or triacetone triperoxide.
Jihadis call it ‘Mother of Satan’, because of the ease with which it is detonated. It is highly sensitive to heat, shock and friction.
The explosive belt is thought to have been dumped in a bin next to an empty house once used as a squat in Montrouge.
A neighbour is said to have checked the bin this afternoon, before phoning the local council who launched an emergency evacuation, said the source.
Police said the explosive belt was found in the place where Abdeslam’s mobile phone was operating on the day of the Paris attacks.
According to NBC News, a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office confirmed a cell phone had also been found near the belt.
Investigators believe the jihadist gang that carried out eight coordinated attacks planned to strike another target but Abdeslam changed plans at the last minute.
In its statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, ISIS referred to an attack in the 18th arrondissement, where the popular tourist spot of Montmartre is located. An attack there on a warm November night would have been devastating.
Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim Abdeslam, blew himself up in a cafe near the Place de la Nation, but he chose to escape.
Abdeslam is thought to have driven the three Stade de France bombers to the stadium before moving on to the 18th arrondissement.
A Renault Clio found the following day at Porte de Clignancourt, which just over a mile directly north of Montmartre. Mobile phone records also indicate that Abdeslam was in the 18th arrondissement on the night of the attacks.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk