Four police officers reportedly wounded in operation on southern Brussels, with at least one other suspect still thought to be at large.
One gunman has been killed and four police officers have been wounded in a police raid in southern Brussels linked to the Paris terrorist attacks in November.
The operation was still ongoing, with police still looking for two other suspects, according to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF.
The shootout happened as a joint team of Belgian and French police arrived to search an address as part of the investigation into the Paris attacks of 13 November which killed 130 people.
“Two individuals apparently barricaded themselves inside a home,” Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels told local media. A correspondent for France Info radio said locals in Forest had described hearing an exchange of gunfire that latest several minutes. It was not clear what type of firearm was used.
The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, confirmed that a team of Belgian and French police had come “under fire, apparently from assault weapons.”
The shootout happened in the quiet neighbourhood of Forest in the south west of Brussels. Police cordoned off the area and local trams were suspended. On one approach to the scene four police and one van blocked off the street , while two helicopters buzzed overhead. A crowd of about 50 people gathered but life carried on as normal. In nearby streets a couple sat in the launderette and a woman walked her dog.
Security services have blocked roads and told residents to stay indoors. A primary school close to the scene of the shooting was in lockdown. Part of the public transport network was suspended, a helicopter hovered overhead and journalists were asked not to publish videos or photos of the area.
Locals were shocked to kind the sleepy neighbourhood at the centre of a major police operation. “It’s always quiet here, it is peaceful, “ said Nathanael Dantas, a 21-year-old student, who said he was unable to return home. “I’ve never seen so many police here, against the blare of sirens. But police allowed one family with three small children to pass through the cordon and go home.
“It is a very calm peaceful area,” said a 17-year-old standing in her parents’ corner shop. “This is a shock for everyone.” Outside, television cameras crowded around the police cordon.
The incident took place across the street from an Audi auto factory and the train lines leading to the Gare du Midi railway station where Eurostar trains to London and Thalys trains to Paris run from.
The November attacks in Paris are believed to have been in part prepared and coordinated in Brussels.
Belgian security forces are still hunting suspects and associates of Brussels-based militants involved in the attacks in Paris on 13 November in which 130 people were killed.
One of the prime suspects connected to the Paris attacks, 26-year-old French national Salah Abdeslam — who lived and grew up in Brussels — has been on the run since November. He left Paris in the hours after the attacks, shortly after his brother had blown himself up as part of the terrorist assault. Belgian public broadcaster RTBF said that, according to French police sources, Abdeslam had not been the target of Tuesday’s raid.
Since mid-November, 11 people have been arrested and charged in Belgium in connection with the killings and eight are still in detention.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN