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Belgium charges Abrini over Paris attacks, Osama K over Brussels attacks

Belgian prosecutors are still uncertain whether Abrini was also involved in 22 March Brussels attacks
Mohamed Abrini was charged in the 13 November attacks in Paris (AFP)

Belgian prosecutors on Saturday held Mohamed Abrini in connection with the Paris attacks and a new suspect in the Brussels attacks identified as Osama K, charging them both with "terrorist murders."

But "it was not possible yet to confirm that Mohamed Abrini indeed was the third suspect", the so-called "man in the hat" seen with the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport on 22 March, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Abrini and Osama K, whom the media have identified as Osama Krayem, were among six people arrested in raids Friday across Brussels in an important blow to the cell believed to have carried out both attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Abrini, who has Belgian and Moroccan nationality, grew up in Brussels and has a history of petty crime. His younger brother died in Syria in 2014 after joining IS, the Guardian reported. Abrini is believed to have travelled to Syria last summer.

Osama K was identified as the man who appeared with the suicide bomber at the Malbeek subway station and the one who bought bags used to conceal the bombs set off by two suicide attackers at the airport on 22 March, the statement said.

It said both were charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist murders," the first in connection with the 13 November Paris attacks and the second in the Brussels attacks.

It said two people arrested with Abrini were released after a "thorough investigation."  

Another suspect who was arrested Friday at the same time as Osama K was identified as 25-year-old Rwandan national Herve BM, who is "suspected of having offered assistance to Mohamed Abrini as well as Osama K," the statement said.

He is charged with participating in the activities of terrorist group and "complicity in terrorist murders," it said.

It added that another man, Bilal EM, was charged with participating in "the activities of a terrorist group and complicity in terrorist murders" over suspicions he helped Abrini and Osama K.