Brussels gunman incident ‘not terror-related’
Police sealed off part of the Belgian capital following witness accounts that an armed person could be at large.
Belgian police say an incident involving a suspected armed man in Brussels is not terror-related.
Brussels police spokeswoman Kathleen Calie said officers from Belgium’s special federal force were deployed to the Forest suburb following witness accounts that an armed person could be at large.
A search of one building produced nothing, and a second search is ongoing.
Ms Calie said “we can rule out terrorism.”
Police sealed off part of the neighbourhood and Associated Press television images showed armed officers hiding behind buildings and staking out a rooftop in the area.
Masked police, some with automatic weapons, were aiming their guns high at a building near the Place Saint-Denis. A police helicopter flew overhead.
Broadcaster RTL quoted Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels as saying that police “suspect the presence of an armed man”. The area was sealed off at around 12.30pm local time and people were warned to stay in their homes.
A suspect in the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015, Salah Abdeslam, hid in Forest and was caught up in a shootout with police in a nearby apartment.
Belgium recently lowered its threat level after almost two years on high alert. In March 2016 suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and an underground station killed 32 people.