Brussels (HRNW): The terrorist cell that killed 32 people in attacks on Brussels last month had initially intended to strike France again, but swiftly decided to target the Belgian capital because the police investigation was closing in on them, prosecutors have said.Belgium’s federal state prosecutor said on Sunday that “numerous elements” in the investigation showed the group “initially had the intention to strike in France again” following November’s Islamic State attacks on the French capital that killed 130 in suicide bombs, shootings and a gun attack on a rock concert.But, the prosecutor said, the group was “surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation” and so “urgently took the decision to strike in Brussels”.
Two suicide bombers killed 16 people at Brussels airport on 22 March. Moments later, a coordinated suicide bomb at Brussels’ Maelbeek subway station killed another 16 people during rush hour.
Investigators have found clear links between the cell behind the Brussels attacks and the group that prepared and carried out November’s attacks in Paris. Both were claimed by Isis.
Belgian prosecutors announced this weekend that Mohamed Abrini, 31, a key suspect wanted in connection with November’s Paris attacks, had confessed to being the third bomber at Brussels airport. Known from CCTV footage as “the man in the hat”, he left a large bag of explosives at the airport, then fled on foot, eluding police for weeks. He was arrested on Friday in a police raid.