Police in Belgium were hunting Tuesday for two suspects who fled a home during a raid “linked to the Paris attacks investigation,” that left one person dead and four officers wounded, Sky News reported.
National security forces have been searching for suspects connected to the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris terror attacks. The skirmish Tuesday occurred in the Forest suburb of Brussels, which is not far from the Molenbeek neighborhood where two of the Paris attackers lived.
Federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric van der Sypt said that the raid was “linked to the Paris attack investigation,” according to Sky News. Two suspects were seen fleeing the area.
Late Tuesday, a man was found dead inside the apartment, a police official told the Associated Press. The official asked not to be identified because the operation was ongoing.
It was not immediately clear if the man found dead was one of the people police were looking for in the raid.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that "a team composed of Belgian and French police came under fire, apparently from assault weapons, during a raid."
Two hours after the first shots were fired, a big swathe of the Forest neighborhood was in lockdown as special police units in body armor and balaclava hoods moved in, several with their guns drawn.
A helicopter was hovering overhead to patrol the area as police were still hunting the suspects.
"Two individuals, apparently barricaded themselves inside a home," Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels told local media.
It wasn't immediately clear if the two people escaped, or whether police were searching for more people.
Salah Abdeslam, a main suspect in the Paris attack, is still being sought by authorities. Eleven suspects have been arrested in Belgium since the massacre, which saw 130 people killed when gunmen opened fire at a sidewalk cafe and at the Bataclan theater.
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.
It was unclear whether the officer or officers who were wounded in the bust were shot or injured in some other manner.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.