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Belgium establishes Abdeslam accomplice’s real identity

John Thys, AFP | Police sketch of Najim Laachraoui

Belgian prosecutors said Monday they had established the real identity of an accomplice in last year's Paris attacks as 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, until now known by the false name of Soufiane Kayal.

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"The investigation showed that Soufiane Kayal can be identified as Najim Laachraoui, born on May 18, 1991 and who travelled to Syria in February 2013," prosecutors said in a statement in Brussels.

Laachraoui's DNA was also found on explosives used in Paris attacks, a source close to the investigation told AFP Monday.

Laachraoui as Soufiane Kayal rented an appartment in Auvelais, near the central Belgian city of Namur, from where the attacks were planned.

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

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national of Moroccan origin, is believed to be the last surviving member of the jihadist team that carried out the attacks. He was captured in Brussels last Friday. Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian, was shot dead two days earlier in a police raid in the Forest district of Brussels.

The three men had posed as tourists heading to Vienna on holiday and did not raise suspicions when they were stopped by police.

"Laachraoui's DNA was found at the Auvelais home and at a house in Schaarbeek (in Brussels) which were used by the terrorist group," the prosecutors said in the statement.

They appealed to the public to contact police with any information about Laachraoui or his whereabouts.

Investigators suspect that both Laachraoui and Belkaid spoke to some of the jihadists by phone on the evening of the attacks targeting on the Bataclan concert venue, restaurants, bars and the Stade de France stadium.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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