Real identity of accomplice in Paris attacks discovered

BRUSSELS • Belgian prosecutors say they have discovered the real identity of an accomplice in the Paris attacks.

The accomplice was named as Najim Laachraoui, 24 - previously known by the false name Soufiane Kayal, which he used to travel to Hungary in September with Salah Abdeslam, the key suspect who was arrested in a raid last Friday.

Laachraoui, who went to Syria in February 2013, is still on the run.

Prosecutors said Laachraoui's DNA had been found at an apartment used by the Paris attackers that he rented under a false name in Auvelais, near the central Belgian city of Namur, and at another suspected hideout in Schaerbeek, a district of Brussels.

He used the same false name at the border between Austria and Hungary on Sept 9 when he was travelling with Abdeslam and Mohamed Belkaid.

Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian, was shot dead last Tuesday in a police raid in Brussels' Forest district.

Najim Laachraoui, 24, previously known by the false name Soufiane Kayal, is one of two suspects still on the run.

Laachraoui is one of two more suspects wanted over the Paris attacks. The other is Mohamed Abrini, who became friends with Abdeslam when they were teenagers.

The investigation is now widening, and French President Francois Hollande has said the network involved in the Paris attacks was much bigger than previously thought.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Sunday that Belgium and France had so far found around 30 people involved in the gun and bomb attacks on bars, a sports stadium and a concert hall in the French capital.

Mr Hollande was due to hold his first formal meeting with relatives of the 130 Paris victims yesterday.

"The President, in the light of recent events, will update them on what is happening," a presidential palace spokesman said.

The BBC said the meeting comes amid claims by the families that, four months after the attacks, they are being ignored.

It reported that one man who lost a daughter in the Bataclan theatre attack said he had earlier asked for such a meeting, only to be "stunned" when told that there was no time in the President's schedule.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Real identity of accomplice in Paris attacks discovered'. Print Edition | Subscribe