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    Planned bomb attack in France averted

    Belgian police have foiled a terrorist attack in France. An Iranian couple from Wilrijk had planned an attack on a meeting of an Iranian opposition party in the Paris area. On Saturday afternoon, the two were intercepted in the Stokkel district of the Brussels commune of Sint-Pieters-Woluwe after residents noted a suspicious car. A large police contingent converged on the scene, along with DOVO, the specialised force charged with bomb disposal, who defused the bomb.

    According to the federal prosecutor’s office the suspects are 38-year-old Amir S. and his 33-year-old wife Nasimeh N. Beiden, who are are naturalised Belgians of Iranian origin. The couple had targeted a conference in Villepinte, organized by the Iranian opposition party MEK, which has been banned in Iran since 1981. An estimated 25,000 people attended the gathering.

    The police stopped the pair while they were in their car. They had about 500 grams of explosives on board, and an ignition mechanism hidden in a toiletry bag.

    The federal prosecutor is investigating whether there are other people involved in the case. On Saturday, home searches were carried out in Wilrijk, Boom, Ukkel, Bergen and Leuze-en-Hainaut. The incident is also being looked at beyond Belgium’s borders. The public prosecutor says that a “suspected accomplice” has been arrested in France. Two others were released there after interrogation. In Germany, a 47-year-old Iranian was arrested in the case. This man is an Iranian diplomat at the Austrian embassy in Vienna. The public prosecutor expressly stated that there was no direct terrorist threat to Belgium.

    Arthur Rubinstein
    The Brussels Times