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Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged in 'terrorist' killings

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A French national suspected of fatally shooting four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels was charged on Wednesday with committing "murder in a terrorist context", the Belgian prosecutor's office said.

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Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, spent more than a year fighting with Islamist extremists in Syria, French prosecutors have said.

A Frenchman of Algerian descent, Nemmouche was extradited to Belgium from France on Tuesday after having been arrested in the southern French city of Marseille in late May.

"Since his arrival, he has been interrogated by the counter-terrorist unit of the federal judiciary police of Brussels, as well as by the investigating judge," the Belgian prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Nemmouche was questioned by Belgian officers in connection with the May 29 attack that left a Jewish couple, a Frenchwoman and a Belgian man dead when a gunman opened fire at the downtown museum in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon.

Belgian media said Nemmouche had remained largely silent during his interrogation.

His lawyer told journalists that he was annoyed over the leaking of statements he made during police questioning in Paris in the two months since his May 30 arrest.

"He doesn't want to read his statements the next day in the press," lawyer Sebastien Courtoy said. "That is the reason, and the only reason, why he's refusing to answer questions."

The shooting, the first such attack in Brussels in three decades, raised fears of a resurgence of anti-Semitic violence in Europe and of terrorist attacks launched by European nationals returning from jihadist training Syria.

In May, France launched a hotline asking the public for information as part of new efforts to stop French citizens from travelling to Syria to join Islamist groups.

Nemmouche was arrested in the southern French city of Marseille after being spotted arriving on a bus from Brussels.

A revolver and Kalashnikov rifle were found in his luggage, resembling weapons caught on a museum video of the suspect, as was a portable camera.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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