The terrorists behind the terror bombings in Brussels in March had initially planned yet another attack in Paris, but decided to hit closer to home, Belgian investigators said on Sunday.
Several people involved in the planning and execution of the Paris terrorist attacks in November, which killed 130 people and injured scores more, lived in Belgium, including key terrorists Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini.
Abrini was arrested on Friday after spending almost five months at large and admitted to having a hand in the March 22 bombings in Brussels, which killed 32 people, Belgian prosecutors said.
“Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again,” the federal prosecutor said in a statement.
But the terrorists decided to go for the Belgian capital as investigators were closing in on them. Abdeslam was arrested four days before the Brussels attacks.
“Surprised by the speed of progress in the investigation, they took the decision to strike in Brussels,” the statement said.
Belgium’s second-highest terror alert still remains in place, as Interior Minister Jan Jambon says that “the struggle against terrorism goes on.”