Belgian authorities formally arrested a married couple on Monday and accused them of preparing a bomb attack in France during a packed rally of an Iranian opposition group last weekend.


The federal prosecutor's office said Monday that the two, Belgian citizens of Iranian heritage in their 30s, were charged with "attempt at terrorist murder and preparing a terrorist crime" against an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, in the French town of Villepinte, which is close to Paris.

The office said investigators who detained the couple and searched their car found about half a kilogram (more than a pound) of TATP explosives and a detonator. A few grams (less than an ounce) of TATP can cause bodily damage. A half-kilogram would be enough to cause a sizeable explosion and, in a crowd of some 25,000, considerable bloodshed and widespread panic.

The federal prosecutor's office said that as well as the Belgian security services, the DGSI French internal intelligence service and German judicial authorities were instrumental "in avoiding a terror attack on French soil."

Prosecutors said three suspected accomplices were detained in France. An Iranian diplomat based in Vienna was detained in Germany.

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