April 22, 2016 / 12:22 PM / 2 years ago

Brussels bomber Laachraoui was hostage gaoler in Syria: lawyer

PARIS (Reuters) - Brussels airport bomber Najim Laachraoui was one of the men who held four French journalists captive for months in Syria, the lawyer of two of the former hostages told Reuters on Friday.

A man, who police said is named Najim Laachraoui is seen in this undated photo issued by the Belgian Federal police on their Twitter site, on suspicion of involvement in the Brussels airport attack, on March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Belgian Federal Police/Handout via Reuters

Najim Laachraoui, a 25 year-old Belgian, was one of the two bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels’ airport on March 22, investigators have said. Thirty-two people were killed in the attacks on the airport and a metro station.

“I can confirm that he was the jailer of my clients,” Marie-Laure Ingouf, a lawyer for two French journalists freed in April 2014 after spending 10 months as hostages in Syria, told Reuters.

An engineering sciences student who dropped out of university, Laachraoui is believed to have had the technical training that could mean he was the armorer of the operation.

Le Parisien daily on Friday quoted intelligence sources as saying Laachraoui was in charge of interrogating the hostages and was less brutal to them than Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who in May 2014 killed four people in an attack on Brussels’ Jewish Museum.

One of the four former French hostages, Nicolas Henin, had in September 2014 said that he recognized Nemmouche as one of his Syria jailers.

Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Ingrid Melander Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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