(REUTERS) – The militant cell behind bombings in Brussels had been plotting to hit France again after carrying out the Paris attacks but was forced to strike closer to home as police closed in, Belgian prosecutors said on Sunday.
Investigations into the Islamic State attacks in Paris in November which killed 130 people showed many of the perpetrators lived in Belgium, including surviving suspects who managed to evade police for more than four months.
Prime suspect Salah Abdeslam was arrested by police on March 18 after a shootout in the Belgian capital. Four days later, suicide bombers killed 32 people in attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train.
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"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.
"Surprised by the speed of progress in the investigation, they took the decision to strike in Brussels," the prosecutor said.