Brussels: Belgian police launched an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks in a Brussels neighborhood on Tuesday and three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired, officials said.
A police official, who requested anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear, or whether the police officers were struck by bullets or injured in another way.
Another official said that the anti-terror raid in the Forest neighborhood was linked to the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people. The lockdown in the area continued more than an hour after the first shots were fired and is close to Molenbeek, home to several people involved in the Paris attacks.
Police sealed off a wide perimeter around the area where the shots were heard to keep the many bystanders at a safe distance. A helicopter was hovering overhead to patrol the area as police were still looking for at least one suspect. Several hundred spectators were trying to get a closer look at the operation in the multicultural neighborhood, which has a big Audi car factory nearby.
Several hooded officers wearing body armor milled around the neighborhood and ambulances were on standby.
Four months on, Belgian police and magistrates have been still piecing together the role Belgian nationals played in aiding the Paris attackers, as well as trying to track down missing suspects including international fugitive Salah Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim was one of the suicide bombers.
The suspected ringleader of the attacks was a Brussels resident, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Another attacker, Bilal Hadfi, was said to have lived for a time in the Forest neighborhood.
Belgian authorities have stepped up their counterterror efforts since a lone gunman killed four people at the Brussels Jewish museum in May 2014. The small Western European country has also been prime recruiting ground for the Islamic State group, and officials freely acknowledge their concerns about what radicalized recruits might do after returning home from the battlefields of Syria or Iraq....