At least three Belgian policemen have been injured in a shooting that erupted following an anti-terror raid in the capital, Brussels, on 15 March. A manhunt is under way for at least two gunmen that have fled from the scene.
The shoot-out took place in the southern suburb of Forest, as the suspects opened fire on police that were deployed to search an address in anti-terrorism investigation. Prosecutors said the operation was linked to the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in November.
Police have sealed off a number of streets in the area and residents have been urged to stay indoors as the suspects are believed to be hiding not far from the shooting site. They are said to be armed with at least one Kalashnikov rifle.
Details released by authorities are sketchy but local media reported one suspect is holed up inside a building while the second is hiding in a nearby wasteland. Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels however said it appeared two men are barricated inside a home.
One of the injured officers, a member of the special units, has been taken to a local hospital in serious condition with gun wounds to the head, according to La Libre newspaper. The other two suffered light injuries.
Belgian authorities have carried out a series of raids in the Brussels area since the Islamist shootings and bombings in the French capital, as several of the attackers had ties to the country, which has the highest rate of Islamist fighters per capita in Europe. The Forest neighbourhood is only a few kilometres from the Molenbeek district that has become infamous as a hotbed for Islamist militants.
Jihadi brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam, 26 and 31, ran a pub in the neighbourhood. Brahim detonated a suicide vest near a café on Boulevard Voltaire in Paris on 13 November, while Salah is currently on the run and has been dubbed Europe's most wanted man. Another Belgian national, Mohammed Abrini, is also sought by authorities over the November shootings and bombings.
France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Reuters French police were also involved in the Brussels operation. Security sources speaking to AFP however denied the raid targeted Abdeslam.