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Third Brussels bombing suspect Najim Laachraoui not arrested, still on the run

The Belgian media had earlier reported the prime suspect in the bomb attacks in Brussels, Najim Laachraoui, had been arrested from the Anderlecht district.

Updated: Mar 23, 2016, 17:37 PM IST
Third Brussels bombing suspect Najim Laachraoui not arrested, still on the run

Brussels: The Belgian media has withdrawn reports that a third man suspected to be involved in Tuesday's attack in Brussels has been arrested.

The Belgian media had earlier reported the prime suspect in the bomb attacks in Brussels, Najim Laachraoui, had been arrested from the Anderlecht district.

However, the reports now say the person detained was not Najim Laachraoui and that he had been misidentified.

La Libre Belgique newspaper said another person had been arrested. DH, which first reported the story, also said the man detained in the Anderlecht district had been misidentified.

 

Belgian police and prosecutors have been declining all comment but will hold a news conference at 12 noon GMT.

Najim Laachraoui has been on the run since yesterday's attack. He was seen in the CCTV footage

which also captured the two suicide bombers who struck at the Brussels airport.

The two were identified as brothers Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui.

The two suicide bombers were known to the police, Belgian media said.

 

Laachraoui`s DNA had been found in houses used by the Paris attackers last year, Belgian prosecutors said on Monday, adding that he had travelled to Hungary in September with Paris attacks prime suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Captured on the security camera photograph at Brussels airport beside the El Bakraoui brothers, Laachraoui did not detonate a bomb. A bomb was subsequently destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Khalid El Bakraoui, 27, had rented under a false name the flat in the Forest borough of the Belgian capital where police killed a gunman in a raid last week, RTBF said.

Belgian newspaper DH said the Bakraoui brothers may have fled the flat in Forest after last week`s shootout.

In the raid, investigators found an Islamic State flag, an assault rifle, detonators and a fingerprint of Abdeslam, who was arrested three days later.

Both brothers had criminal records, but had not been linked by the police to Islamist militants until now, RTBF said.

Brahim El Bakraoui, 30, was convicted in October 2010 for firing a Kalashnikov assault rifle at police and wounding an officer after a robbery in Brussels earlier that year. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

In 2011, his brother Khalid was given a sentence of five years for car jacking.

(With Reuters inputs)