Friday 27 April 2018

Brussels gunman incident 'not terror-related'

A Belgian police officer prepares his gun while taking position on a roof after an area of the Forest commune had been closed by Belgian police and special forces, in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A Belgian police officer prepares his gun while taking position on a roof after an area of the Forest commune had been closed by Belgian police and special forces, in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

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 man said to be a police officer takes cover behind a car in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. TWITTER/@Nickko/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
A man said to be a police officer takes cover behind a car in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. TWITTER/@Nickko/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

A search of one building produced nothing, and a second search is ongoing.

Ms Calie said "we can rule out terrorism."

A Belgian police special forces member runs in the Forest commune after it was closed by Belgian police and special forces, in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A Belgian police special forces member runs in the Forest commune after it was closed by Belgian police and special forces, in Brussels, Belgium February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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.

Press Association

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