Belgium charges two and detains three over attacks

Authorities say they have charged two men over Brussels attacks, and arrested three in connection to the Paris attacks.

A man attends a memorial gathering near the old stock exchange in Brussels following bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium
Three suicide bombers killed 32 people in Belgium's worst terror attack last month [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

Two men have been charged with offenses related to the Brussels bombings, and three others have been arrested in Brussels in connection to the Paris attacks, Belgian authorities said on Tuesday.

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The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office said the two who have been charged, identified only as Smail F and Ibrahim F were involved in renting an apartment in the Etterbeek area of Brussels that served as a hideout for the bomber who attacked the Brussels subway on March 22 as well as a suspected accomplice.

It said the detention of the three related to the Paris attacks followed a morning search in Uccle, an upscale district of the Belgian capital. 

A judge will decide on Wednesday whether the three people should remain in custody, it said.

It said no further information would be made public about the search.

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Brussels was home to many of the attackers who struck the French capital on November 13, killing 130 victims. 

According to Belgian and French investigators, the same cell was behind the March 22 suicide bombings that killed 32 victims at the Brussels Airport and in the Brussels subway.

A total of six people are currently under arrest in Belgium and charged with involvement in the Brussels attacks, including the two charged on Tuesday, federal magistrate Thierry Werts said.

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At least eight people, included key suspect Salah Abdeslam, are also being held by Belgian authorities on charges related to the Paris attacks, he said.

Responsibility for both acts of carnage was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

An investigating magistrate on Monday ordered Smail F born in 1984, and Ibrahim F born in 1988, were “charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to commit terrorist murders”. 

Werts declined to provide additional details, but state-run RTBF broadcasting, citing information from unspecified sources, reported the two suspects were brothers, and that the older sibling had rented the apartment on the Rue des Casernes, while the younger brother helped empty and clean it following the attacks.

Belgian police searched the Etterbeek apartment Saturday but found no weapons or explosives.

The statement from prosecutors said the investigation “is continuing actively day and night.”

Source: News Agencies