The perpetrators of last month's terrorist attacks on Brussels had in fact been planning a new attack on France but ran out of time, according to information gathered by investigators, the Belgian federal prosecution said Sunday.
The information emerged following the arrest Friday of Paris terrorism suspect Mohamed Abrini, who later confessed to also being the fugitive third attacker in Brussels airport last month, where two others set off suicide bombs.
Last November, 130 people died in attacks on bars, restaurants, a sports stadium and a concert venue in Paris. On March 22, three suicide bombers killed 32 people at the Brussels international airport and the city's Maelbeek underground station.
The Brussels attacks took place four days after the arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect sought in relation to the Paris attacks.
Abrini, who became known as the "man with the hat" based on video surveillance images taken at the airport, was charged Sunday with terrorist murders, attempted terrorist murders and participation in the activities of a terrorist group in relation to the Brussels attacks, the prosecution said in a statement.
He had previously been charged with terrorist offences relating to the attacks in Paris last November.
"Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again," the prosecution said, adding: "Eventually, surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation, they urgently took the decision to strike in Brussels."
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