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Belgium charges two new suspects over Brussels attacks

The two suspects were charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, according to prosecutors
Belgium police conducts raids across the city in connection with the Brussels attacks in March 2016 (AFP)

Belgium has charged two new suspects over last month's Brussels airport and metro bombings and made three fresh arrests in the probe into the November Paris attacks, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Investigators have uncovered a tangled web of links between the Paris and Brussels attacks, with many of the same people involved and linked to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, which claimed both attacks.

The two suspects, identified as Smail F and Ibrahim F, were "charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to commit terrorist murders, as a perpetrator, co-perpetrator or accomplice," a statement from the prosecutors said.

Belgian media identified the suspects as brothers Smail and Ibrahim Farisi who were said to have "cleaned" the Etterbeek apartment the day after the attacks.

It remains unclear when the two men were arrested. 

The statement added there were "indications" the two men could be linked to the rental of an address in Brussels' Etterbeek district, which was raided last week and is not far from federal police headquarters.

At the time, police said they found nothing of interest but reports suggested that two other men - one of them Khalid El Bakraoui, who blew himself up at Maalbeek metro station in Brussels - may have stayed there or used the address.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Belgian prosecutors 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".

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 IS.

The second man, Swedish national Osama Krayem, was seen on CCTV with Bakraoui at a nearby metro station on 22 March, and was apparently carrying a rucksack bomb.

Bakraoui then boarded the metro, travelling to Maalbeek station near the European Union headquarters district where he blew himself up.

Krayem was arrested last week and charged with terror offences.

There is considerable speculation in Belgium that despite recent police successes, there could be more suspects still on the run.

The federal prosecutor gave no further details of the suspects, citing the need for secrecy in the investigation "which is continuing actively, day and night".

The airport and metro bombings killed 32 people in Belgium's worst terror attack.

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