Brussels attacks: Police hunt Metro suspect still at large

Belgian Premier Charles Michel speaks after minute's silence. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Belgian Premier Charles Michel speaks after minute's silence. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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A second attacker is believed to have taken part in the Brussels Metro bombing and may be at large.

Belgian police are hunting a man caught on CCTV carrying a large bag and walking with jihadist Khalid El Bakraoui shortly before the bomb detonated, according to state broadcaster RTBF.

The news comes as security services scour the country looking for another of the suspected killers, dubbed “the man in white”, who was captured on CCTV pushing a trolley through Zaventem Airport with Najim Laachraoui and Khalid’s brother Brahim moments before they blew themselves up.

Meanwhile, the chief suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was summoned to court in Brussels yesterday after his arrest last week in the Belgian capital. His lawyer, who initially vowed to fight extradition, said Abdeslam now wants to be sent to France as soon as possible.

The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said Abdeslam appeared at a hearing yesterday with a suspected accomplice and the court adjourned the proceedings.

His lawyer, Sven Mary, said his client was not physically present for the hearing, even though a helicopter circled overhead, and the area was under heavy security, as are many parts of the Belgian capital. Mr Mary told reporters he asked for a one-month delay on any transfer while he studies the large dossier, but that Abdeslam “wants to leave for France as quickly as possible”.

“He wants to explain himself in France, so it’s a good thing,” Mr Mary said. He said the next extradition hearing will be 31 March, and he expects the process to take about another two weeks after that.

France is seeking Abdeslam’s extradition to face justice for his involvement in the 13 November attacks on a Paris gig, stadium and cafes, which killed 130 people.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in both Brussels and Paris.

Belgian prosecutors have said at least four people were involved in Tuesday’s attacks on the Brussels airport and a Metro train, including brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, identified as suicide bombers. European security officials identified another suicide bomber as Najim Laachraoui, a suspect for the Paris attacks.

Home Secretary Theresa May joined counterparts from the European Union for an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss ways to fight terrorism.

Mrs May said: “Obviously investigations are still ongoing, but we know that those responsible – Daesh – seek to divide us and harm our way of life and the UK stands ready to support Belgium in any way it can to unite, to defeat these terrorists. We will give Belgium the support it needs but our message is clear: the terrorists will not win.”

Downing Street said yesterday six UK citizens had been injured in the twin attacks, four of whom have been discharged from hospital and two who are still receiving treatment.

David Dixon, 53, originally from Hartlepool but living in Brussels, remains missing.

Downing Street said a British police expert in victim identification is being sent to Belgium as part of a package of support being provided by the UK.