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'Paris attacks bombmaker' identified as Brussels airport killer

The suspected bombmaker in the Paris terror attacks was one of two suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels airport.

Najim Laachraoui, 24, was previously believed to be on the run after dumping a bag containing a bomb that failed to detonate and fleeing the airport.

But officials said his DNA has been verified as that of one of the suicide bombers - meaning the identity of the infamous "man in white" remains a mystery as security services continue to search for him.

The revelation adds weight to the theory that both attacks, which killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds more, are linked to the same Islamic State (IS) cell.

It comes as Turkish officials claim they warned the Belgian authorities that one of the Brussels killers was a terrorist - but he was allowed to walk free.

Laachraoui is believed to have made the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks, which had his DNA all over them, according to The Associated Press.

He was being hunted by the Belgian authorities who had suspecting him of being an accomplice of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested on Friday.

Belgium's threat alert remains at its highest level and several suspects believed to be linked to the attacks are still on the loose, according to Paul Van Tigchelt, head of Belgium's terrorism threat body.

Prosecutors said at least 31 people were killed and 270 injured in the three suicide bomb attacks at an airport and metro station in Brussels on Tuesday morning, and the death toll could rise.

Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who is also known as Brahim, and Laachraoui blew themselves up at Zaventem Airport at 8am local time.

Just over an hour later more commuters were killed when Ibrahim's brother Khalid detonated a suicide bomb in the carriage of a train at the Maalbeek Station.

Turkish officials said they warned Belgium last summer that Ibrahim was a terrorist.

He was caught in June at the Turkish-Syrian border and deported to the Netherlands.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "despite our warnings that this person was a foreign terrorist fighter, Belgium could not establish any links with terrorism". As a result, the Dutch let him go, it is claimed.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Ibrahim left a note in a bin before his death which suggested he felt increasingly besieged.

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told a press conference the note was found on a computer dumped in a bin in the Schaerbeek area in Brussels.

Mr Van Leeuw said: "We have found a written testament by Brahim El Bakraoui in which he said: 'I don't know what to do. I'm in a hurry. I'm on the run. People are looking for me everywhere. And if I give myself up then I'll end up in a cell.'"

Mr Van Leeuw said two people were arrested on Tuesday night. One person has been released but the other, arrested in Schaerbeek, is being questioned.

Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attacks and issued a statement in Arabic and French which threatens other countries in the anti-IS coalition with "dark days", according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.

Meanwhile, the family of David Dixon, who is originally from Hartlepool but was living in Brussels and has been missing since the explosions, are said to be "desperately" searching for him.

Transport terminals across the UK and Europe have boosted security in the wake of the atrocities, and Belgium's main airport is to remain closed until at least Thursday night.

Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to join counterparts from the European Union in Brussels for an emergency meeting on Thursday.

The meeting of justice and security ministers is "intended to show solidarity with Belgium, discuss the actual state of play in the fight against terrorism and pursue swift completion and implementation of legislation", the EU said.


From Belfast Telegraph