Islamic State flag found near the body of gunman named after Brussels shootout
Belgian special forces conducted manhunt through the night after suspects opened fire during raid connected to Paris attacks. Two suspects have been arrested
Police secure an area after an apartment raid in Brussels.
By Henry Samuel, Paris
10:57AM GMT 16 Mar 2016
An Isil flag, a Kalashnikov and a book on Salafism were found in the flat where a suspect was killed during shootout in Brussels on Tuesday, according to deputy Brussels prosecutor, Thierry Werts.
The dead man has been identified as Mohammed Belkaid, an Algerian unknown to security services and an illegal immigrant. He is only known to have committed a petty theft in 2014.
He was killed by a special forces sniper after shooting at police from a window. Four police officers, three Belgian and one French, were injured in the shoot out.
Two suspects have been arrested – one after checking into hospital with a broken leg. Two other suspects are at large.
Six French and Belgian officers came under heavy fire when they attempted to search a flat in Forest, a southern suburb of the Belgian capital.
The flat was being raided as part of an investigation into the Paris terror attacks of November 13, in which 130 died. An automatic weapon was found by his side.
Two suspects inside also had a pump action shotgun. They managed to escape during the shootout. Police found 11 Kalashnikov cartridges and “countless munitions”.
They continued their search and moved to a nearby area after finding two gun cartridges and dark clothing in the area. They found another Kalashnikov.
The prosecution said that 100 raids have taken place since the Paris attacks and 58 people have been arrested.
However, two other suspects reportedly managed to flee on the roof. Belgian special forces continued the manhunt throughout the night, with the search moving from rue de Dries to nearby avenue du Bempt, where a raid was conducted at dawn, according to RTBF.
According to VTM news, one suspect was arrested last night, and a second early this morning.
According to Dernière Heure, the suspects are thought to be Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, known for gangster-related crimes.
Police officers take position on a rooftop during a police operation in Forest, Brussels.
Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, said that the police operation was still underway.
“Police operations are continuing,” Mr Michel said on Wednesday morning without confirming the press reports over arrests or the number of suspects being hunted.
Belgian authorities admitted to having been taken by surprise during Tuesday’s joint police raid of a flat. “They weren’t expecting what happened yesterday afternoon,” admitted Koen Geens, the Belgian justice minister.
“We can say that we were very lucky,” said Mr Michel. “Four of our agents were lightly wounded. It could have been a tragedy. Our police officers are continuing their work on the ground,.”
The Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed that it was not Salah Abdeslam, wanted in connection with the Paris attacks and last seen in Brussels on November 15.
The raid had been conducted to check false identities linked to the “entourage of the 11 Belgians charged in relation to the Paris killings”.
BFM TV reports that the tenant of the flat where the shoot out erupted is a Belgian Moroccan 27-year-old known for petty crimes. The same person had rented out under a false name a flat in Charleroi where several of the Paris gunmen are believed to have stayed the massacre.
Belgian security forces during a police operation in in Forest-Vorst, Brussels.
In the Charleroi flat, police found the finger prints of Bilal Hadfi, one of the Stade de France suicide bombers but also the DNA of Chakib Akrouh, who blew himself during a police siege of a flat in Saint Denis shortly after the Paris attacks.
Fingerprints belonging to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks who died in the Saint Denis gun battle, were also found in Charleroi.
Belgian police stage a raid, in search of suspects in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, in this picture taken on November 16. 2015. Shots were fired March 15, 2016 when police searched a house in Brussels, police said on Tuesday, though they declined comment on media reports that the raid was carried out by counter-terrorist officers. Picture taken November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files
Do you remember the denial issued by the Mayor of Molenbeek, claiming they had no terrorism or Muslim problem in the town?