A suspect armed with a Kalashnikov was killed Tuesday in Brussels in a shootout in a spectacular Belgian-French police operation linked with Paris bombings in November, which was still ongoing in the late evening, according to the Belgian authorities.
"This is a person whose identification is ongoing," said the Belgian federal prosecutor, who nevertheless said he was not Salah Abdeslam.
This key suspect of Paris bombings are still at large. A French police source had said earlier that Tuesday's operation was not intended, but was about "the entourage of one or more of the 11 Belgian indicted."
Three Belgian policemen and a French colleague were slightly injured during their activities, authorities said.
The French police "was present as part of a joint investigation team between the federal prosecution (Belgian) and the Paris prosecutor," said to the press the Belgian Minister of Justice, Koen Geens. "We did not expect what happened this afternoon," he added.
"We find that we have been very lucky. Four of the officers were injured lighter, it could have been a drama, our officers continue to work on the ground, "said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in a brief statement to the press in mid-evening.
"We were immediately informed that in the course of a search, the police were fired. It was followed by police operations, which are continuing, "added Mr. Michel.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the search, routine, was "in connection with the attacks in Paris" of 13 November which made 130 deaths.
The police operation was launched early in the afternoon after a search has gone wrong street Dries in the Brussels commune of Forest, leading an assault against the house where one or more suspects were holed .
"During this operation, one or more persons immediately opened fire on the policemen at the opening of the door by the security forces," reported the federal prosecution. Two suspects are on the run, according to press reports unconfirmed.
"Since three o'clock in the afternoon, I was stuck. Imagine that I expected here, on the Place Saint-Denis, to go to the hairdresser and the police arrived. They shouted: "! Evacuate Evacuate the place '", told AFP Renee, a retiree.
Return to calm
Calm gradually returned in the evening to Forest. At midnight (2300 GMT), only a small area remained secured by police, said a journalist from AFP. members of the special forces, the face covered with a hood, were still visible in the street where the shooting took place, but they seemed relaxed, the source said.
Most residents were allowed to return home, except those residing in a still sealed, without anyone knowing exactly if the men were still being sought and as new searches were conducted in Forest late evening, according to local media. A national security council, which brings together key ministers and officials of the Belgian security services, is expected Wednesday.
The federal prosecutor meanwhile held a press conference Wednesday at 10:30 (0930 GMT).
A helicopter and special forces were sent there in the afternoon. The area was completely sealed off and journalists kept away for several hours.
It was, according to RTBF channel, an identity verification process set out in the Belgian part of the record of the investigation into the attacks of Paris.
According to the mayor (mayor) of Forest, Jean Marc-Ghyssels, children from two schools and two kindergartens of the district had to be sheltered within the institutions. They were then evacuated.
Eleven people have been charged to date in Belgium in connection with the attacks of 13 November 2015. The investigation has shown that these attacks were largely prepared and coordinated from Brussels.
Eight of the eleven accused are still in custody. Abdeslam Salah and his friend Mohamed Abrini, born like him in the Brussels commune of Molenbeek, have still not been apprehended.
Abdeslam Salah, 26, suspected of having had at least one key role of logistics in the attacks in Paris, evaporated in nature since exfiltration of the French capital to Brussels by friends, the day after the attacks.