Brussels: Belgian and French police have launched a vast manhunt for more possible suspects after a Kalashnikov-wielding assailant was killed and four officers were wounded on Tuesday during an anti-terror operation in Brussels linked to the November 13 Paris attacks.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said operations were continuing after the gun battle in the southern Brussels suburb of Forest, and that the national security council would meet on Wednesday.
Armed police came under fire as they carried out a daylight search on a property in the quiet suburb, sparking a series of gun battles that left children trapped in nearby schools.
"During what was believed to be a routine search, security forces were fired upon. That was followed by police operations which are ongoing," Michel told a press conference, adding that it was "linked to the attacks in Paris".
A French policewoman was among three officers wounded in the initial attack, while a fourth was hurt in an exchange of fire.
Michel thanked residents for their "composure" as bursts of gunfire erupted in the streets and dozens of heavily-armed police with balaclavas and sub-machineguns sealed off the area.
The dead person had not been identified but prosecutors said it was not Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Paris massacre claimed by the Islamic State jihadi group, which killed 130 people and left 350 wounded.
"In this operation, one or several people opened fire on the police as they came through the door" of the property in an initial search, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement on Tuesday night. "One suspect armed with a Kalashnikov-type assault rifle was killed in an assault by police about three hours later. Police were actively pursuing investigations, day and night," the statement said.
Eric Van Der Sypt, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, was quoted by the Belga news agency as saying: "A body was found during a search of a house...his identity has not been established yet but whatever the case, it is not Salah Abdeslam."
French police sources confirmed Abdeslam was not targeted in the raid.
Published Date: Mar 16, 2016 02:04 pm | Updated Date: Mar 16, 2016 02:06 pm