Belgian police sealed off part of a Brussels suburb after reports of a gunman at large, sending in a massive team of specialist armed units into the neighbourhood where a suspect in the Paris attacks hid from authorities.
Police officers armed with handguns and rifles were pictured hiding behind buildings and staking out a building rooftop in the Forest neighborhood of the Belgian capital on Thursday.
A police helicopter flew overhead, with Belgian media said an armed person may be hiding in a building.
But a police spokeswoman denied media reports that an armed gunman was hiding in the area, saying the heavily armed units were responding to reports of a possible murder.
Armed police officers were pictured hiding behind buildings and staking out a building rooftop amid reports an armed man could be at large in Brussels
She said the special units of the federal police had been deployed in a major security operation after a Polish man reported that someone had been murdered in the morning.
‘They are searching the buildings but we can say there has not been any terrorist attack,’ she said.
Brussels is still on alert after suicide bombers killed 32 people at the airport and on the metro in March 2016.
A suspect in the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015, Salah Abdeslam, hid in the Forest neighbourhood and was caught up in a shootout with police in a nearby apartment.
Police closed down a street in Brussels in a major security operation involving armed units
Police weren’t immediately available to comment on the incident, which began at lunchtime
Belgian police have sealed off part of a Brussels suburb amid media reports that an armed man could be at large
Broadcaster RTL quoted Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels as saying that police ‘suspect the presence of an armed man.’
Police earlier RTBF that a security perimeter had been established, but did not want to specify the nature of the operation.
Witnesses at the scene told local media that armed police at the scene are ready to fire.
‘I was behind a bus when all of a sudden, the police came armed, they told us to leave the street,’ one told RTBF.
‘So I went around and there I saw people start running in all directions.’
Another told RTBF that officers warned residents to stay in the homes.
Belgian special forces prepare to take position after an area of the Forest commune was closed
Witnesses at the scene told local media that armed police at the scene are ready to fire
Armed police officers were pictured hiding behind buildings and staking out a building rooftop in the Forest neighborhood of the Belgian capital