anchor: 9:00 in the french capital. you are watching "france 24." these are our top stories. the belgian authorities carry out a series of counterterrorism raids detaining three people. a foiled plot. french officials have made one arrest and seized guns and explosives. they say they prevented a terror attack believed to be in advanced stages. another blow to the militants. washington says a u.s. air raid in the syrian city has resulted in the deaths of the islamic state group's second in command.
anchor: good evening. where in belgium officials say three people have been detained this friday following counterterrorism raids today. this follows tuesday's terror attacks at the main airport and the metro station. livesattacks claimed the of at least 31 people and left more than 300 others injured. amongst the casualties were people from more than 40 different countries. a huge investigation is now underway. catherine clifford' brings us the latest on its develo ments. after screening him with a bomb disposal robot, police dragged him away. this man witnessed the arrest. >> he was sitting with his daughter.
policecial cars from the came in and told him to stop. he tried to do something, two shots. they took the kid and shot the man in the leg. he did not die. he was moving. they told him to put the back far from him. reporter: authorities said several small explosions took place during work at the scene. of the authorities detained three people on friday, two were sought and the like. all three were linked to a french attack plot foiled on thursday. he was taken by police. he was said to be in the advanced stages of planning an attack. >> for several months, we have been tracking an individual antiterrorist cell which we believe represented a major terror risk. this work has led to the individual's arrest.
reporter: multiple raids have taken place around brussels over the past 24 hours. at least six people were detained thursday. three have now been freed. in another development, belgium prosecutors say d.n.a. tests concern -- confirmed he was one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at the airport. they also announced his d.n.a. was present on explosives found following the paris attacks at the concert hall. he is suspected of being a weapons maker for the islamic state group. a manhunt continues for two suspects directly linked to tuesday's brussels attacks. ishor: the german magazine reporting police in germany have arrested two people in the last 40 hours suspected to having links to the brussels suicide bombers. one of the two received two mobile phone messages shortly before the brussels attacks which included the name of one
of the bombers. the german interior ministry is declining to comment on that report. jessica is in berlin and tells us more. reporter: this afternoon, police officials have confirmed these two arrests. they are separate arrests that took place this week. two men who are suspected of having links to the brussels attackers. the first arrest took place wednesday night in a town about 80 kilometers north of frankfurt. according to local police reports, a 28 euros man was arrested at a train station while police were undertaking regular checks, they stopped this man and asked him for identification. when he failed to provide any, they took him into custody. during investigation, they found he had been using different aliases over the past few months. he also had trouble bans in europe and was wanted in italy for criminal activity. they also said, the police report also said his phone was
being investigated. he was being investigated in conjunction to the brussels attackers. it is this man media reports are toculating may have links another man with two suspicious text messages found on the phone. media reports in germany quoting federal police say one text message said just the name at another -- and another was received on tuesday morning "the end" in french. rather suspicious. the second arrest happened thursday evening in the city of düsseldorf. the man arrested there is a november -- known member of a group. this man was known to be -- have been arrested on the turkish-syrian border in the
, alongside one of the brussels attackers. these two men were arrested by turkish police in 2015 and deported back to amsterdam. this man arrested in düsseldorf may have known ibrahim el bakraoui. police do not know how well or to what extent. this is what they are currently investigating. anchor: meanwhile, the u.s. defense secretary ashton carter says the u.s. has killed several senior leaders of the islamic state group following a series of air raids in syria. amongst those believed to have describedd, the man as the jihadist group's second in command. he is reported to have been killed last night when his car was struck. here is what ashton carter said about him. secretary carter: we are systematically eliminated isil's
cabinet. the u.s. military killed several key isil terrorists this week, including, we believe the isil leader, senior leader serving as a finance minister, and who also is responsible for some external affairs and plots. leaderoval of this isil will hamper the organization's ability to conduct operations inside and outside of iraq and syria. anchor: the u.s. defense secretary speaking. philip brings us the latest from washington. reporter: there is little given by the pentagon at this point. the man described as being the number two in command or the finance minister. according to the pentagon, he has another name. we don't know at this point
exactly how he was killed. it appears to have been an air raid possibly this week. but our colleagues at nbc news have different information. they believe this was a special forces operation on the ground in syria and these were american forces on the ground who took him out, who wanted to take this man alive but were not able to because of consultations on the ground. that is what we are hearing so far. you just heard from u.s. defense secretary ashton carter. this is precisely the kind of announcement the pentagon wants to make. when he says they are systematically taking out the cabinet of the islamic state organization, these are titles they give themselves as part of the self-proclaimed islamic state and includes the minister of war, the minister of military operations who was killed earlier this month. the pentagon also says other leaders were killed this week in similar operations by the united
states. this is certainly a successful u.s. forces on the ground. this is a man they have been looking at for a long time. there was a reward for information about him, of $7 million put out by the justice department. the pentagon ready much state'sng the islamic number two in command. anchor: in addition to the death of their second in command, the islamic state organization is suffering another setback in syria. backed up by russian airpower, recaptured the ancient citadel held by the militants since may of last year. syrian state television is saying heavy casualties have been inflicted on the jihadists. the full recapture would be a major strategic and symbolic victory for president bashar assad.
assaddvanced by the regime comes a second state john kerry and vladimir putin agreed to step up efforts for a political settlement in syria. this at a rare meeting in moscow. this diplomatic progress comes one month on from the cease-fire munich seen site in as being the best hope for building peace. >> one month on from the syrian cease-fire and signs it could be holding. these images by russian journalists allegedly show civilians returning to their bond out homes in the suburbs of damascus. the russians say this town has recently been freed from jihadist fighters. the militaryanks servicemen have decided to help our district. must survive and win against these terrorists. reporter: despite these scenes, the russians have been accused continuing to bomb islamic
groups to intensify attacks on rebel positions. russian authorities have claimed they are unable to distinguish between the extremists and more moderate troops funded by the u.s. they have reported at least seven violations of the cease-fire agreement committed by rebel forces over the past few days. haswhile, the fragile peace held long enough for world leaders to start discussing long-term plans. following meetings with the russian president and foreign minister, the secretary of state john kerry said there was still hope for a peaceful political transition. i believejohn kerry: russia is fully engaged in this effort, and all of us are going to try to get president assad to make the right decision in the next days to engage in a political process that results in a genuine transition and in peace for syria. reporter: however, turkey's
position could disrupt proceedings. authorities have become increasingly angered by russia's links with kurdish forces in syria's north. anchor: that is the news coming in from outside baghdad where a suicide bomber is reported to have won himself up at a football match in a village on the edge of the iraqi capital. police and medical sources say at least 29 people have been killed. roughly twice that number have been injured. the death toll is expected to rise. we will bring you more details as soon as we get them. there is no claim of responsibility although nearly all such attacks in recent months have been the work of the islamic state organization. the trial of two turkish journalists accused of revealing state secrets has been adjourned today after opposition m.p.'s refused to leave the courthouse in a protest that the trial be held behind closed doors. they face life in prison if found guilty.
we learn more about the details of the case which has drawn condemnation from across the globe. reporter: we are here to support journalism and journalism is not a crime. these were the words uttered by the editor-in-chief of turkey's leading opposition newspaper. he and the bureau chief arrived at court on friday ahead of the with deteriorating freedom of press. the president himself is a plaintiff in the case. >> we know we are right. we stand by our story. we believe the real culprit should stand trial. we will go to court to ask for our acquittal and say people cannot be deprived of their right to be informed. reporter: his words were followed by a resounding applause by 200 supporters gathered outside the courthouse.
the men were arrested in november of last year over a report alleging the government tried to -- the islamists. they stand accused of trying to topple the government with espionage. if convicted, they face life in prison. >> in recent weeks, the sheer leftr of media outlets that are critical or independent is shrinking with the speed of light. reporter: the country's officials have rejected accusations turkey is stifling free press. any do not expect restriction on freedom of expression. everyone is free to express their views. reporter: since his rise to power in 2002, several news
outlets seized by the government have been handed over to businesses close to his ruling party. today, with more than a dozen journalists in prison, turkey ranks 149 out of 180 countries in its press freedom index. anchor: for more details, we go to the head of the turkey bureau for reporters without borders. he joins us now from istanbul. tell us briefly how involved your organization has been in this particular case. >> thanks for inviting me. we have followed the case closely from the beginning. before they were arrested in november, we awarded their newspaper with our press freedom award in the media category precisely to stress their courage and the quality of their reporting in a context
which is more and more difficult for independent journalism in turkey. with independent reporting and do not hesitate to investigate the most troubling issues, including the investigation i got so many troubles for them. would have a campaign for months -- we have had a campaign for months. we have attracted the attention of international institutions to this case. today as longhem as the audience was open to the public. anchor: that case was supposed to be held behind closed doors. what happened in the courtroom? did they tell everyone to leave? >> indeed. basically, the trial opened today. the first hour and a half was open to the public. there was ans --
and theyation check were presented with the identity of the plaintiffs, the president and intelligence services. the first action the courts had to take. the decision was to hold the trial behind closed doors. it is a scandal given the high profile of this case from the beginning not only in turkey but abroad given the fact the revelations they have made about arms transfers by the turkish intelligence services to syria concern the whole world, especially with regards to international terrorism, the syrian crisis.
of course, it is a matter of public interest. of course in this case, it is a matter of reporting. these journalists should never be prosecuted. it was all the more shocking to hear the answer of the courts to the question of the lawyers. why exactly is the president himself complaining? how personally is he concerned by the case? you face answered charge of attempting to overthrow the government, so indeed the president is personally concerned. lot thehat tells a state of the rule of law in turkey and the challenge this trial is empathize for journalism -- exemplifies for journalism and the rule of law. anchor: has reporting in turkey
always been a difficult business? do you get the impression the situation is markedly worse now than it was a few years back? >> reporting has always been difficult in turkey. 2000,deed in the year progress was made. there was a wide variety of opinions in the media. this was something to underscore on the turkish media landscape. now indeed it has rarely been worse. is crushed reporting more and more by the day. one of the main opposition outlets was raided by police a couple of weeks ago. now it has turned into a government mouthpiece. detainedts are daily
and even sometimes injured while trialing -- trying to cover the clashes between the arms forces in the southeast. over bya has been taken those close to the government. the situation is very serious. reporting in turkey is more difficult than ever. anchor: thank you for that. we are out of time. the head of the turkey bureau for reporters without borders. cuba has been hosting a-listers this past week or so. first it was president barack obama and then the socialite paris hilton. now the rolling stones object into a havana hotel to give their first performance on the island. what's more, it is free of charge. >> ♪ their music was once
banned in cuba for inciting ideological deviation. but no longer. on thursday, the rolling stones touched down in havana to a warm welcome ahead of their historic concert in the communist country. >> time changes everything. we are very pleased to be here. i'm sure it is going to be a great show. we had better get ready. gig expected free to draw half a million people is the latest sign of cuba's thawing relations with the west and comes days after the first visit by a u.s. president to the island in 88 years. after the 1959 resolution, western music, everything from the beatles to elvis, was repressed to varying degrees. forced labor was at one time the punishment for being caught with rock 'n roll contraband. for cuban music fans, friday's concert is long overdue. >> i feel like it is the start
of a new era when the country will open a little more to culture, to the influence of other artists from other countries. >> the rolling stones are legends. a legend to be told, a living legend. reporter: it may only be rock 'n roll, but cuba certainly likes it. anchor: it looks like exciting times in cuba at the moment. time for a check of the top business news stories. good evening. let's start retaking a look at the health of the french economy and its finances. >> french finances have been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. this is the european union has complained that france needs to clean up his act. in 2015, government finances fared better than first thought. budget show france's deficit was 3.5% last year, less
than the expected 3.8% deficit. the better figure was largely down to stronger-than-expected growth during the year. this is seen as a positive development for the economy. the recovery remains patchy as nicholas explains. reporter: there are signs of green shoots for the french finance ministry. one piece of good news. the budget deficit was lower than forecast. better than the 3.8 percent forecast for 2015. >> it is greater than the target we set ourselves. >> it shows the effort french people are making in terms of public spending cuts and shows the return of growth. reporter: french economic growth was 1.2% against slightly better than expected. those positive developments contrast with a slight increase of 0.4% in public debt which now
stands at 95.7% of gdp. the finance minister speaking on french television said the figure was stable compared to the years of the financial crisis. >> what we are seeing is a 15-year accumulation of debt. that exploded. everyone can see it in the figures. you can say it is because of the financial crisis. we had to deal with the explosion of debt from 2009 22012. reporter: better economic statistics are slow to filter down. the number of job seekers in france is at an all-time high. rising 1.1% in february. more than 3 million people are currently registered as looking for work. news comes asomic the government battles unions and students over labor reform proposals that aim to introduce >> ability into the job market. mixed ahead of next
year's presidential election. >> the american economy has fared better than forecast. during the fourth quarter, the u.s. economy did better than first thought. figures showed consumer spent more than first estimated. the economy was 1.4% larger compared to the same three months in 2014. the previous estimate was for a 1% growth rate. the bad news is corporate profits dropped in the fourth quarter. they were 11.5% lower than in 2014, the steepest annual drop since 2008. let's bring you up-to-date with other stories we have been watching. major american companies are joining protests against lawmakers in north carolina. removent to antidiscrimination laws. people bars transgender to use bathrooms that do not
match the original gender. doubt critical and paypal are among those critical of the move. back aft could takeover of rival yahoo! indirectly according to a report. it is reporting microsoft representatives have been meeting with private equity funds mulling a yahoo! offer. microsoft could step in to provide part of the financing. the company tried but failed to take over yahoo! in 2008. also in the united states, "playboy" may come up for sale. is. company has hired an advisor to look at a possible sale of the entire firm. it is exploring his options after putting the founder's mansion on the market which sparked strong interest. fromboy" is under pressure free adult entertainment online but could still fetch more than