House search turns into shoot-out in Vorst, Belgium.

Summary

A terrorist suspect was shot dead and four police officers were wounded during a house search that led to a manhunt in Vorst yesterday

Operation complete

Police came under fire on Tuesday while attempting to carry out a search at a house in the Vorst municipality in Brussels. By the time the incident was over, one of the suspects was dead, two police officers were slightly injured and two more were detained in hospital suffering from shock.

The incident took place at about 14.30, when police arrived with a search warrant in Driesstraat. According to a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor’s office, the search was in connection with the investigation into Brussels links to the terrorist attacks in Paris last November. Officers from both Belgium and France were involved.

“We had not expected this kind of resistance,” said Eric Van Der Sypt. “The officers were immediately fired on through the door.” Two officers left the hospital in the course of the evening; another two are still being held suffering from shock and minor injuries. Three of the wounded officers are Belgian.

A major search followed for the occupants of the house, who are thought to have escaped over the roofs and through the back gardens of surrounding houses. Two schools and two day-care facilities in the area were locked down under police guard, with parents  gathering in a nearby hall. Employees of the Audi factory were advised to remain on the premises.

Later in the evening, one of the suspects was shot dead by a single shot from a police sniper. Police said he was in possession of an automatic rifle. One or two others may be at large. Their identities have not been released.

The search ended at 2.30 this morning, and the operation was cleared by 6.00. “We were very lucky. This could have been a real tragedy,” said prime minister Charles Michel, who will chair a meeting of the National Security Council today, together with justice minister Koen Geens and home affairs minister Jan Jambon. “Today showed once again that police officers have no ordinary job, but sometimes have to lay their lives on the line.”

Jambon commented that the action “proved that terror level three wasn’t just pulled out of thin air.” Whether the current level three will be maintained or raised, he said, would be determined by the risk analysis agency.

photo: Olivier Polet/Corbis

 

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