The planners behind the March 22 bombings in Brussels which killed 32 people had initially planned to hit France for a second time but struck closer to home as investigators made arrests among key suspects, Belgian prosecutors said on Sunday.
Investigations into the Nov. 13 Paris attacks which killed 130 people showed many of the attackers lived in Belgium, including key suspects Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini who evaded police for four months after November’s killings.
Abrini was arrested on Friday and admitted to having participated in the Brussels airport bombings. He has been charged with terrorist murders, prosecutors said.
“Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again,” Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.
The attackers decided to hit nearby targets when Belgian investigators closed in on them. Abdeslam, suspected of being involved in the Paris attacks, was arrested on the Friday before the Brussels bombings.
“Surprised by the speed of progress in the investigation, they took the decision to strike in Brussels,” the prosecutor’s statement said.