Brussels // The real identity of an accomplice in the Paris attacks has been discovered, Belgium prosecutors said on Monday as they met their French counterparts to discuss the probe into November’s carnage.
The accomplice was named as Najim Laachraoui, 24 -- previously known by the false name Soufiane Kayal which he used to travel to Hungary in September with the key suspect Saleh Abdeslam.
Abdeslam was arrested in a raid on Friday, four months after the Paris attacks which killed 130 people.
Laachraoui, who also travelled to Syria in February 2013, is still on the run.
French president Francois Hollande, who wants Abdeslam extradited as quickly as possible, was due to hold his first formal meeting with relatives of the victims on Monday afternoon.
“The president, in light of recent events, will update them on what is happening,” the presidential palace said.
Investigators hope Abdeslam’s arrest in Brussels on Friday, in which he was wounded in the leg, will give new leads on the attacks claimed by ISIL.
Abdeslam, the last known survivor of the group that carried out the attacks, was found near his family home in the gritty Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, where several other of the attackers hailed from.
Belgium has faced heavy criticism for failing to keep tabs on extremists there.
The investigation is now widening, and Mr Hollande has said that the network involved in the Paris attacks was much bigger than previously thought.
Investigators are still “far from solving the puzzle” of the Paris attacks, Belgium’s federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said on Monday after talks with his French counterpart Francois Molins.
“We have a not a bad amount of pieces of the puzzle and in the last few days several pieces have found their place. But I am still, and we are still, far from solving the puzzle,” Frederic Van Leeuw said.
Mr Molins said at the weekend that Abdeslam played a “central role” in the attacks and originally planned to “blow himself up” at the Stade de France stadium but changed his mind.
“These first statements, which should be taken cautiously, leave a whole series of issues that Salah Abdeslam must explain,” he added.
Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said on Sunday that Abdeslam – who has been charged with “terrorist murder” and belonging to a terrorist group – had already told investigators he was planning some sort of new attack in Brussels.
“That may be the reality because we have found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons, in the first investigations and we have found a new network around him in Brussels,” Mr Reynders said.
But Abdeslam’s lawyer Sven Mary said his client would fight extradition to France and has vowed to take legal action against the French prosecutor for his comments.
He also criticised what he called political meddling by the Belgian foreign minister.
"They don't learn, these politicians, and realise that there's a separation of powers. This chatter has to stop. The investigators and prosecutors – and I don't often say this – have done an excellent job," Sven Mary was quoted as saying in the De Morgen daily.
“If the politicians want to nullify all of this and violate the tenuous bond of trust that exists between my client and investigators, they just have to continue along this path,” he said.
Two more suspects are wanted over the Paris attacks: Mohamed Abrini, who became friends with Abdeslam when they were teenagers, and Laachraoui.
Prosecutors said Laachraoui’s DNA had been found at an apartment used by the Paris attackers that he rented under a false name in Auvelais, near the central Belgian city of Namur, and at another suspected hideout in Schaarbeek, a district of Brussels.
He used the same false name at the border between Austria and Hungary on September 9 when he was travelling with Abdeslam and Mohamed Belkaid.
Belkaid, a 35-year-old Algerian, was shot dead on Tuesday in a police raid in the Forest district of Brussels.
* Agence France-Presse