Europe

Brussels attacks: Suspect's DNA at Paris attack sites

  • 25 March 2016
  • From the section Europe
Najim Laachraoui (C) and (R) and reportedly (L) too from airport CCTV Image copyright Belgian police
Image caption Laachraoui was only known by the alias Soufiane Kayal until this week

Belgian officials have named the second suicide bomber in Tuesday's attack at Brussels airport as Najim Laachraoui, and said that his DNA was found at sites of the November Paris attacks.

The news came as three people were arrested in Brussels in connection with the attacks.

Prosecutors said the arrests were linked to a raid in Paris on Thursday, where an attack was apparently foiled.

Other suspects have been arrested in Belgium, Germany and France.

Thirty-one people died in bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station.

The attacks came days after the arrest of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels.


More about the attacks

Why have jihadists targeted Belgium?

Why Brussels warning signs were missed

From Paris to Brussels: Why the attacks are linked

What we know so far

Victims and survivors


Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said on Friday that Abdeslam, who had initially agreed to co-operate with investigators, had ceased to do so.

"The federal prosecutor has just informed me that Salah Abdeslam no longer wants to talk since the attacks on Zaventem [airport] and the Brussels metro," he said in parliament.

Also it emerged that police in Mechelen, north of Brussels, had failed to pass on vital information in December 2015 to colleagues in Brussels that could have led them to Abdeslam.

Local police chief Yves Bogaerts said the information was not deliberately withheld.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Security remains tight at stations on the Brussels metro

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it carried out both the Brussels and Paris attacks.

On Friday it released a video about the Brussels attacks, presenting them as retribution for coalition attacks against IS territory in Iraq and Syria.

As clear connections emerged between the militants involved in the two sets of attacks, French President Francois Hollande warned of a threat from other similar networks.

"We have had success in finding the terrorists both in Brussels and in Paris," he said.

"There have been some arrests, and we know there are other networks, because even though the one that carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels is in the process of being wiped out with a number of its members arrested, there's still a threat looming."

What Belgian prosecutors said about Laachraoui:

  • Left DNA on a piece of cloth at the Bataclan and on an explosive device at the Stade de France in November
  • DNA also found in a flat in Brussels and a house in Auvelais in southern Belgium, both used by the Paris bombers
  • Until this week, known only as Soufiane Kayal
Media captionFootage from Friday shows bomb disposal experts in Brussels and the moment a suspect was shot in the legs

Brahim el-Bakraoui has already been named as one of the perpetrators of the airport attack, which left 11 people dead. A third remains unidentified.

In the same statement, the prosecutor's office said three more arrests were made in the Forest, St Gilles and Schaerbeek districts of Brussels on Friday.

In the most recent raid, a man carrying a backpack was shot in Schaerbeek district after refusing to obey police orders, media say. Controlled explosions were carried out.

An area near Meiser square was sealed off by heavily armed police and military vehicles.

A witness quoted by local media said the man had taken a woman and child hostage. He released the child and was shot despite trying to use the woman as a shield.

The operation has now finished and the cordon has been lifted.

Schaerbeek mayor Bernard Clerfayt said a man had been arrested and shot in the leg.

'Je suis Bruxellois'

US Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting Brussels, said that IS would be destroyed.

Media captionJohn Kerry: "We will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs... from the face of this earth"

Standing alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, he expressed his condolences and solidarity with Belgium, declaring "Je suis Bruxellois".

The Western alliance would continue its fight to destroy IS, Mr Kerry said.

"We will not be intimidated. We will not be deterred."


Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police secured the area round the apartment raided in Argenteuil
Image caption Connections have been made with last November's Paris attacks

Recent arrests

  • Brussels: Six detained in the Schaerbeek and Jette districts, and the city centre on Thursday. Three more held on Friday in Forest, St Giles and Schaerbeek.
  • Paris: Reda Kriket, 34, arrested in Paris' north-western Argenteuil suburb, alleged to be in the "advanced stage" of plotting an attack. 2015 Brussels court conviction for IS recruitment, along with Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
  • Germany: Two suspected jihadists detained in Dusseldorf and Giessen areas on Wednesday and Thursday - both with suspected links to one of the Brussels bombers, Der Spiegel reports, and one with suspicious text messages on his mobile phone referencing Brussels.

More details of those killed in the Brussels attacks have been released. Nationals of 40 countries were caught up in the attacks.

Among the deaths confirmed so far:

The Brussels bombings continue to have political repercussions, with questions surrounding the issue of whether more could have been done to prevent them.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Brahim el-Bakraoui was arrested in Gaziantep on the Turkey-Syria border

Turkey has said it arrested and deported one of the bombers, Brahim el-Bakraoui, last June, warning Belgium he was a "foreign fighter" - but the message was "ignored".

The Belgian interior and justice ministers said they had offered their resignations but the prime minister refused to accept them.

Bakraoui's brother, Khalid, struck at Maelbeek metro station, where 20 people died.


Have you been affected by the recent events in Brussels? You can tell us about your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

  • WhatsApp: +44 7525 900971
  • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
  • Text an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)

Or comment here:

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions