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Brussels terror latest: Third suspect bomber Najim Laachraoui still on the run, confirms Belgian federal prosecutor

Live updates: 'I'm in a rush, I don't know what to do' said note belonging to bomber found in bin

By Belfast Telegraph reporters and PA

The only surviving suspect thought to be responsible for bringing carnage to Brussels Airport yesterday as the Belgian capital suffered a string of bombings by Isis jihadists which left 32 people dead - is still on the run.

Days after the Belgian authorities ended their four-month hunt for fugitive Paris attacker Saleh Abdeslam, a new pursuit began as police issued a CCTV image of three men pushing luggage trolleys into Zaventem Airport before its departure hall, crowded with early-morning travellers, was devastated by two explosions yesterday morning.

Investigators were urgently seeking one of the trio - who wore a light-coloured jacket with a black hat and thick glasses - after announcing that his two apparent accomplices were believed to have died in the attack.

The suspect in the middle of the CCTV image has been identified through DNA as Ibrahim el-Bakraoui – born in Brussels.

The second suicide bomber on the left in the image has not been identified and is believed to have died.

The suicide bomber in the Meto Attack has been identified as Khalid el-Bakraoui who was Ibrahim's brother.


Citing a police source, RTBF said the brothers were known to the authorities but for involvement in organised crime rather than terrorism.

On Wednesday morning Belgian media initially stated that the third man Najim Laachraoui had been arrested.

He was believed to be the only remaining suspect on the run following the attacks on Tuesday.

According to reports he was detained in the city of Anderlecht.

However DH newspaper have withdrawn their report saying "Contrary to what we announced, the man arrested in Anderlecht is not Najim Laachraoui".

The Belgian federal prosecutor Frederick Van Leeuw has confirmed the suspected surviving bomber is still on the run.


He also confirmed that the Laachraoui's bomb contained the biggest charge at the airport.

The discovery of an unexploded suicide vest at the international hub led to speculation that the wanted suspect may have pulled out at the last moment.

An hour after the attack, a third device detonated on a train at Maelbeek metro station in central Brussels, killing at least 20 and injuring more than 100.

The Belgian Prosecutor says police found bomb-making equipment and the will of one of the suicide bombers - one of the brothers - Ibrahim El Bakraoui on a computer during a raid at an apartment.


The prosecutor also said one person detained in one of the raids remains in custody and is under questioning.


Mr Leeuw said DNA confirmed that Ibrahim El Bakraoui attacked the airport and his brother Khalid El Bakraoui attacked the Metro station.

He did not name the second bomber at the airport.


Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor Guy Spence confirmed that his request to light up the city hall had been approved.

A book of condolence for the victims will also be opened at 2.30pm.

Belgium terror: Belfast City Hall to be lit up in Belgian colours in mark of respect to victims of IS attacks on Brussels Metro and Airport


Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgium's federal prosecutor, said the document was found on a laptop dumped in a bin outside a flat in Schaerbeek.

Paraphrasing the statement Mr Van Leeuw said the Belgian was "in a rush, not knowing what to do, being hunted everywhere, no longer being safe".

The suicide bomber reportedly stated that if the situation continued he would “end up in a cell” alongside Abdeslam, who was caught on Friday after four months after the Paris attacks.


As a European capital once more became the scene of choreographed murder, Isis claimed responsibility for the atrocity of which Brussels had been living in fear since it emerged the city had been the planning and logistical base for the Paris attacks.

There was growing speculation that the attackers may have been prompted to strike swiftly over fears police were closing in on them after the revelation by Abdeslam's lawyer that the captured terrorist was "collaborating" with police.

Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an expert on Islamic radicalism in Belgium, said: "These guys acted because of last week, the arrest of Saleh Abdeslam. They needed to kill immediately before they would not be identified."


The Belgian Prime Minister acknowledged that fears of attacks on home soil had come true. A sombre Charles Michel said: "What we feared has happened. In this time of tragedy, this black moment for our country, I appear to everyone to remain calm and show solidarity."

After a day in which the Belgian capital, the base of the institutions of the EU as well as the headquarters of Nato, was put in a state of lockdown, federal prosecutors confirmed last night that raids in the Schaerbeek area of the city had led to the discovery of an explosive device containing nails, chemical products and an Islamic State flag. At least one Kalashnikov rifle - the same weapon used by the Paris attackers - was also recovered from the attack on the airport.

The Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said two of the three men in the CCTV footage had "very likely committed a suicide attack", while confirming a manhunt under way for the third man seen dressed in white.

But as the hunt for the fugitive continued, questions were being asked about the timing of the attack and whether it was linked to fevered publicity surrounding the arrest of Abdeslam in a shoot-out on Friday afternoon.

Ministers and officials had been barely able to conceal their relief at the capture the Belgian-born jihadist, who appears to have spent the four months since participating in the bloodbath on the streets of Paris hiding back in his native city.

But revelations from prosecutors that they believed the jihadist may have been plotting further attacks and confirmation from his lawyer that his client was co-operating with French and Belgian investigators led to concern that yesterday's killings were the work of members of the same or a linked jihadist cell.

Mr Van Ostaeyen, the Islamic terror expert, said yesterday's bombs followed the same logic of previous attacks - kill as many people as possible.

He added: "I'm afraid the police are a few steps behind. They were convinced that they stopped something big last week. Isis probably wanted to show they can hit the heart of Europe."


Witnesses described hearing shouts in Arabic and gunshots moments before a detonation blew out windows at the airport, bringing down a rain of ceiling fittings and water from ruptured pipes on the bodies of passengers who had moments earlier been queuing at check-in desks.

The bombing at Maelbeek station took place some 100 metres from the headquarters of the European Commission. Dazed and injured commuters spilled out onto the streets, and within minutes of the assault, the Belgian capital was placed in lockdown. Security was also tightened at Belgium's nuclear power plants.

International leaders united in support for Belgium, with David Cameron branding the atrocities "appalling" and US President Barack Obama condemning the "outrageous attacks".

The Prime Minister's official spokeswoman said Britain was also sending a team of specialist police officers to the city to assist with the investigation.

The Foreign Office has set up a helpline number 02070080000 for those worried about friends and relatives in Brussels

Belfast Telegraph


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