Brussels raid over Paris attacks: Dead gunman was Algerian national

  • 16 March 2016
  • From the section Europe
Media captionAnna Holligan looks at the window through which the suspects may have escaped

A terrorism suspect shot dead in a raid in a Brussels suburb on Tuesday has been identified as Algerian national Mohamed Belkaid, officials say.

He was killed by snipers while trying to fire at police from an apartment window in the suburb of Forest.

Four officers were wounded in the raid. Police are still hunting two suspects who were in the apartment.

The raid was linked to an investigation into the jihadist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last November.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group said it carried out the attacks.

According to the prosecutors' spokesman, an IS flag was recovered from the apartment raided on Tuesday, along with Salafist (ultra-conservative Islamic) literature and Kalashnikov ammunition.

The spokesman told reporters that Belkaid was born in 1980 and had been living in Belgium illegally. He was not known to the authorities except for one case of robbery.

Media captionEric Van der Sypt, Belgian prosecutor's spokesman: "A flag of ISIS was found in the flat"
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A photo released by the Belgian police shows the damage to an officer's weapon struck by a round during Tuesday's raid
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police were checking on the apartment (centre, with damaged windows) as part of their investigation into the Paris attacks

Police went to search an apartment in Forest on Tuesday afternoon. As they entered, they were fired upon by at least two occupants, the spokesman said.

While Belkaid was shot dead that evening, two suspects who were with him managed to escape and became the subject of a police manhunt.

The prosecutor's spokesman said further searches were carried out near the apartment, and more ammunition was recovered.

Two men arrested later - including one who was brought to hospital with a broken leg - have since been released without charge.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption French and Belgian security forces took part in the operation at Forest

Much of Forest was under lockdown on Tuesday, including schools and kindergartens.

Belgium's De Standaard newspaper (in Dutch) quotes its sources as saying that investigators had been expecting to raid a safe house used in connection with the Paris attacks.

They had not expected the flat to be occupied, as its water and electricity had been disconnected for some time.

Officials have identified most of the people they believe to have carried out the assaults on 13 November - many of whom were based in Brussels.

Most of the suspects either died during the attacks or were killed in later police raids.

Parts of Brussels were sealed off for days after the Paris massacre amid fears of a major incident. Brussels police have carried out a series of raids.

French police also took part in Tuesday's operation in Brussels. One of the officers wounded in the raid was a French policewoman, officials said.

What happened in Forest on Tuesday?

  • Six police officers - four Belgian and two French - go to a house in the Rue du Dries at 14:15 (13:15 GMT) local time
  • After opening the apartment door, the officers are fired at by at least two people. Three of the officers are slightly wounded, including a French female police officer
  • The police are able to retreat safely and call for back up. In the hours that follow, bullets are fired from the apartment - in one instance, slightly injuring a Belgian officer
  • A suspect later identified as Mohamed Belkaid is killed by a police sniper as he tries to open fire from a window of the apartment. His body is later found in the flat. Beside him is a Kalashnikov and a book on Salafism
  • Two suspects believed to be present in the flat manage to escape the scene and a manhunt begins
  • Another house is searched in the Rue de l'Eau in Forest, where a Kalashnikov is found. Further houses and car parking areas are searched with no results
  • At about 20:15 an injured man is brought to hospital in Halle with a broken leg and undergoes immediate surgery. He is arrested after a person who came with him flees the scene
  • A man is taken in for questioning at a house in Chaussee de Neerstal in Forest
  • Both men are later released without charge

Information provided by the Belgian prosecutor's office on 16 March 2016