BRUSSELS – Police in Belgium are still searching for two individuals who shot and wounded police in the course of a raid on Tuesday aimed at arresting suspects linked to last November’s massive terror attacks in Paris.
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The raid was launched on a home in the Brussels commune of Forest. Two individuals fired at police, wounding three of them, then fled. A third man in the home was shot and killed in a confrontation with police. An Islamic State (ISIS) flag was found near his body. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the coordinated Paris attacks last November 13, in which 130 people were killed and more than 300 people injured.
According to media reports, the raid targeted individuals suspected of planning and providing logistical support for the Paris attacks. At a prosecutor’s news conference in Brussels, it was disclosed that the suspect killed overnight was Mohamed Belkaid, a 36-year-old Algerian who had been living illegally in Belgium.
Police also arrested two suspects in the case, including one apprehended at a hospital with a broken leg, but the prosecutor’s office later announced that the two had been released after questioning.
Belkaid was about to shoot at police though the window of the home when he himself was shot by a law enforcement marksman, the Belgian federal prosecutor said. Ammunition, weapons and an Islamic State flag were found near his body.At the news conference it was disclosed that the police raid was carried out by four Belgian and two French policemen. Forest, where the police operation took place, is in the south of Brussels in an area of the city that had not previously been linked to terrorist activity, unlike Molenbeek, where law enforcement pursuing the perpetrators of the Paris attacks have focused their attention.
Police said that from the moment that they broke down the door of the home, they were fired upon. Three policemen were wounded and at least two armed suspects escaped via the roof of the home. Following the exchange of gunfire, a large contingent of security forces was brought in and the area was put on lockdown. Tram lines in the area were shut down and for a short time, the exits to the freeway running south of the Belgian capital were closed.