Belgian premier: more police operations in hours, days to come

Police operations "will most certainly continue" in the coming hours and days, following a raid in Belgium in which a suspect believed linked with last year's Paris terrorist attacks was killed, Prime Minister Charles Michel said Wednesday.

The deceased was killed Tuesday after a stand-off ensued when investigators tried to search a flat in a Brussels neighbourhood in connection with the probe into the Paris attacks.

Officials encountered gunfire from "one or more people" as soon as they opened the door, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Several gunfire exchanges followed during the course of the afternoon, culminating in a police assault during which the suspect, who was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, was killed. The person was not immediately identified, according to the prosecutors.

Belgium has helped with the investigation into the November attacks in Paris, as several of the suspected perpetrators had links to the neighbouring country. The attacks in the French capital left 130 people dead and hundreds injured.

"Police operations, investigative duties are under way and will most certainly continue in the hours and the days ahead," Michel told the RTL broadcaster early Wednesday. "The threat remains present," he added.

Spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told the Belga news agency, however, that Tuesday's operation did not involve Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris attacks who is still being sought by police.

The Frenchman, who used to live in Brussels, is believed to have joined his brother in targeting restaurants and bars during the Paris killings.

Four police officers were slightly injured in the course of Tuesday's shoot-out. Two were released from hospital late Tuesday, and the other two were released early Wednesday, Interior Minister Jan Jambon told the VRT broadcaster.

Police operations continued into the early hours of Wednesday, Belgian media reported.

By 7:30 am (0630 GMT), calm had returned to the southern Brussels neighbourhood of Forest, where the shootings had taken place, the RTBF broadcaster reported, quoting Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels.

More details on Tuesday's shoot-out are expected to be issued at a press conference expected Wednesday.

Local media were reporting early Wednesday that two fugitives had been seized, but prosecutors gave no confirmation, according to the Belga news agency.

Belgium's National Security Council will also meet Wednesday, Prime Minister Charles Michel said. The council includes the ministers responsible for security matters and officials from intelligence services.

Last update: Wed, 16/03/2016 - 11:32
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