Belgian authorities say an Algerian man was killed during a shootout near Brussels and a flag of the Islamic State group as well as jihadist literature were found at the scene. Two other suspects were detained as a manhunt continues in an operation linked to the November terrorist attacks in Paris.
Authorities identified the dead man as 35-year-old Algerian Mohamed Belkaid, who was residing illegally in Belgium.
He was killed in a shootout with French and Belgian police during an anti-terror operation Tuesday that included the town of Forest and other Brussels suburbs.
A spokesman for the Belgian prosecutors’ office told reporters Belkaid was unknown to authorities except for a theft committed in 2014. He described the events that took place at an apartment building in Forest.
“From the moment the door was opened, at least two persons, armed with [...] and a Kalashnikov opened fire toward them,” he said.
Spokesman for the Belgian Federal Prosecutors Office, Thierry Werts, right, and Belgian Federal Prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt address the media during a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Belgian investigators were hunting Wednesday for two suspects who fled an apartment linked to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, after a police sniper killed a third man and uncovered weapons, ammunition and an Islamic State flag, officials said Wednesday.
Four officers were slightly injured in the shootout that lasted several hours, he said, and two suspects escaped and are being sought. Belkaid had been killed by sniper fire.
“Next to the body was a Kalashnikov, as well as a book on Salafism. Also a flag of ISIS, Daesh, was found in the flat as well as [...] and innumerable shell cases," said the spokesman.
A masked Belgian policeman secures the area from a rooftop above the scene where shots were fired during a police search of a house in the suburb of Forest near Brussels, March 15, 2016. Teargas is seen at left.
He said later in the day, a man arrived at a Belgian hospital with an injured colleague, but fled when police arrived. Police are questioning the injured man and another suspect, who have not been identified.
Operation linked to Paris terror attacks
Speaking on Belgium’s RTL radio Wednesday, Prime Minister Charles Michel said the anti-terror operations will continue over the next hours and days, and the terror threat remains high.
The police operation is linked to the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Authorities believe the attacks were at least partly prepared and coordinated in Brussels.
FILE - Flowers and candle tributes are placed at the Restaurant Le Carillon in Paris, Nov. 19, 2015, after last Friday's attacks.
Police earlier said the raid was not connected to key attack suspect Salah Abdeslam, who is still at large.
Belgian authorities say during the past few months they have arrested 58 people in connection with the Paris attacks.