German police arrested two people who are suspected to be linked to the suicide bombers who killed 31 people in Brussels the day after the attack, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.
The unsourced report said one of the men received text messages including the name Khalid El Bakraoui – the man Belgian police say blew himself up in a Brussels metro station. Received minutes before the explosion at Maelbeek metro station, the messages also included the French word for "the end", "fin", Der Spiegel said. The pair were arrested on Wednesday [23 March], it added.
Germany's interior ministry declined to comment on the report but the attacks in Belgium have raised concerns about cross-border security lapses.
News of the arrests in Germany came as French officials told the Associated Press that a man detained by their country's security services on Thursday was Reda Kriket, a 34-year-old Frenchman with connections with the suspected mastermind of November's attacks on Paris, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Abaaoud was killed in a shootout with French police, three days after the attacks on the French capital which left 130 people dead and wounded hundreds more.
A Belgian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Kriket was convicted in absentia in July along with Abaaoud and others for being part of a recruiting network for jihad in Syria.
Speaking after Thursday's arrest, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve minister said Kriket was man was in the "advanced stages" of a plot to attack a target in France, but there was no evidence "at this stage" to link him with either the Paris attacks or the Brussels bombings.
French police said explosives and multiple weapons, including at least one assault rifle, were found in an hours-long search of a home in Argenteuil.
As the manhunt continued for a third man who is believed to be on the run following dual explosions at the airport, Belgian people arrested seven people during anti-terror operations on 24 March. In a statement, Belgian officials said the arrests were the result of an investigation into the bombings at an airport and on the metro system which killed 31 people and injured 316 more.