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Prosecutors: Brussels Attacks Had Planned to Hit France Again

  • VOA News

Belgium police officers secure the access during a police operation in Etterbeek, near Brussels, Belgium, April 9, 2016.

Belgium police officers secure the access during a police operation in Etterbeek, near Brussels, Belgium, April 9, 2016.

Belgian prosecutors said Sunday the terror cell linked to the November attacks in Paris was planning a second attack in France, but last month decided to hit Brussels instead.

The Brussels bombings at an airport and metro station killed 32 people and came days after police arrested key Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city's Molenbeek area following a four-month manhunt.

Prosecutors said Sunday the cell was "surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation" and shifted their plan to a quick attack in Brussels instead.

There was widespread speculation following the March 22 bombings that Abdeslam's arrest triggered the cell to act.

In this Belgian Federal Police hand out picture made available April 7, 2016 the third suspect, of the recent attack on Brussels airport is shown, indicated in box, during his escape from the airport after the blasts.

In this Belgian Federal Police hand out picture made available April 7, 2016 the third suspect, of the recent attack on Brussels airport is shown, indicated in box, during his escape from the airport after the blasts.

The statement from Belgium's Federal Prosecution Office came a day after it said another Paris attack suspect, Mohamed Abrini, told investigators he was the "man in the hat" seen accompanying the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the Brussels airport.

Police searched for him for weeks after the blasts before arresting him Friday along with four other people.All five were charged with participating in "terrorist murders" and "activities of a terrorist group."

Authorities also confirmed the arrest of a sixth person in connection with the Brussels attacks, but did not give further details.

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