A terrorism suspect shot dead in a raid in a Brussels suburb on Tuesday has been identified as Algerian national Mohamed Belkaid, officials say.
He was killed by snipers while trying to fire at police from an apartment window in the suburb of Forest.Several officers were wounded in the raid. Police are still hunting two suspects who were in the apartment.
The raid was linked to an investigation into the jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last November.The so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group said it carried out the attacks.
According to the prosecutors’ spokesman, an IS flag was recovered from the apartment raided on Tuesday, along with Salafist (ultra-conservative Islamic) literature and Kalashnikov ammunition.The spokesman told reporters that Belkaid was born in 1980 and had been living in Belgium illegally. He was not known to the authorities except for one case of robbery.Police went to search an apartment in Forest on Tuesday afternoon.
As they entered the premises, they were fired upon by at least two occupants, the spokesman said.While Belkaid was shot dead that evening, two suspects who were with him managed to escape and are now the subject of a police manhunt.The spokesman said further searches were carried out near the apartment, and more ammunition was recovered.He also mentioned that police were trying to establish whether two people they had taken into custody were linked to the earlier events in Forest.
One of these was a man who was brought to a hospital in Halle on Tuesday evening, requiring treatment for a broken leg. The person who accompanied him fled as soon as police arrived.The other person was detained at an address in Forest.Tuesday’s police operation in Forest brought life to a standstill, close to railway lines used by high-speed trains to London and Paris.
Two local schools and two kindergartens were in lockdown for several hours before being evacuated by police.Belgium’s De Standaard newspaper (in Dutch) quotes its sources as saying that investigators had been expecting to raid a safe house used in connection with the Paris attacks.They had not expected the flat to be occupied, as its water and electricity had been disconnected for some time.
Since the 13 November attacks, officials have identified most of the people they believe to have carried out the assaults – many of whom were based in Brussels.Most of the suspects either died during the attacks or were killed in later police raids.
In addition, 11 people have been arrested and charged in Belgium in connection with the killings. Another eight are still in detention.Parts of Brussels were sealed off for days after the Paris massacre amid fears of a major incident. A number of suspected attackers lived in the Belgian capital. Police have also carried out a series of raids in the city.French police also took part in Tuesday’s operation in Brussels. One of the officers wounded in the raid was a French policewoman, officials said.