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Belgian police arrest two terror suspects in connection with Brussels shooting

Belgian media have reported that two suspects have been detained in connection with yesterday's shooting during a house raid in Brussels linked to investigations into November's Islamist attacks in Paris.

The shootout began on Tuesday afternoon in Brussels' southern neighborhood of Forest.

One of the suspects was killed during the operation and was later identified as a 35-year old Algerian man, Mohamed Belkaid, who had been living illegally in Belgium. He was reportedly found with an Islamic State flag, a Salafist Muslim book and a Kalashnikov assault rifle beside his body, Belgian federal prosecutor Thierry Werts said. Belkaid had been known to police only for a case of theft in 2014.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said operations were continuing, adding that they were "linked to the attacks in Paris."

A French policewoman, who Justice Minister Koen Geens said had been helping in a joint investigation between French and Belgian police, was among the three officers wounded in the initial assault.

Three police officers were wounded during an initial search of the property on Tuesday, while a fourth was hit by gunfire during the huge police mobilization which followed.

Several anti-terror raids have been carried out across the country since Islamist militants carried out attacks in the French capital on November 13, killing 130 people.

Michel summoned security and intelligence chiefs for an emergency sitting of the national security council Wednesday.

Police plan further operations in the coming hours and days, Michel told RTL radio Wednesday. "The threat remains," he said. He added that Belgium would review its level of alertness and consider possible extra measures during the day.

Belgian security forces have been actively hunting suspects and associates of the militants involved in the Paris attacks.

One of the prime suspects, 26-year-old Brussels-based Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, is still on the run. He left Paris hours after his brother blew himself up outside a cafe after the November attacks in Paris.

Abdeslam reportedly stayed for three weeks after the attacks in an apartment in the Schaerbeek district in north Brussels.

Authorities are holding 10 people who have been arrested in the months since the attacks, mostly for helping Abdeslam.

The police intervention sparked a series of gun battles that also left children trapped in nearby schools. Soldiers are still on guard at key areas including train stations and EU institutions.

"The area is totally cleared, totally secured and operations have ended,” Local mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels told public broadcaster RTBF, adding that police searches in Forest were over.

jh/rg (dpa/Reuters/AFP)

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