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Brussels bombers had planned to target France

Damage is seen inside the departure terminal following the March 22, 2016 bombing at Zaventem Airport. (Reuters)

The Daesh terrorist cell responsible for the deadly Brussels bombings had initially planned to attack France but switched targets after police closed in, says Belgium’s prosecutor’s office.   

"Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again," said Belgium's federal prosecutor in a statement released on Sunday.

On November 13, Daesh launched a series of attacks in Paris killing some 130 people. Investigations into the incident revealed that the perpetrators were mostly Belgium-based.

French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. (Reuters)

On March 18, the main suspect in the attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels, four days later bombing attacks claimed the lives of 32 people in the capital city’s airport and underground train.

"Surprised by the speed of progress in the investigation, they took the decision to strike in Brussels," added the statement.

As of Friday, all the suspects of both attacks have been detained or killed by police, but Belgium still remains at its second highest threat level, a state which according to Prime Minister Charles Michel will not change soon.

On Saturday, Belgian authorities announced the arrest of Mohamed Abrini known as “the man in the hat,” who was captured in CCTV footage along with the two Brussels bombers.

Earlier in the case, authorities announced that Abrini's fingerprints and DNA were found in two safe houses in Brussels and in a vehicle linked to the Paris attacks.  

According to Brussels prosecutor’s office, along with Abrini, Osama K., Herve B.M. and Bilal E.M. have been charged for “terrorist murders” and “participating in terrorist acts.”


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