3 Brussels Police Officers Shot in Counterterrorism Raid

3 Brussels Police Officers Shot in Counterterrorism Raid

PARIS — Three police officers were shot and slightly wounded on Tuesday afternoon during a counterterrorism operation in Brussels linked to the Paris attacks of Nov. 13.


The shooting, which occurred around 4 p.m. in a section of Brussels known as Forest, followed a gunfight between police officers and several suspects, according to Belgian and French officials. It touched off a major hunt for what the authorities described as two gunmen.

“A house search was being conducted in Forest,” Eric Van der Sijpt, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Brussels, said in a phone interview. “The police were immediately fired at through the door. We have wounded people, but not severely. The house is surrounded and a proper search will be conducted. We can’t comment on the identities of the possible terrorists or something else.”

French police officers took part in the operation, according to the French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.

“It was in the context of a police raid,” Mr. Cazeneuve said at a news conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he had traveled with the French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, to express solidarity after a series of deadly attacks on three resort hotels there on Sunday. “A team made up of Belgian police officers and French police officers came under gunfire — shots from heavy weapons. But I am extremely cautious on the circumstances, and also cautious because there is an ongoing operation.”

As he spoke, a major police operation was underway in Brussels. Live television broadcasts dozens of police officers and several police cars descending on the Forest neighborhood, which is also known by its Dutch name, Vorst, and is southwest of the city center. The police evacuated homes in the area, as well as a school near the building where the raid occurred. Employees from the car manufacturer Audi, which has a building a few blocks away from the house in Forest, were told to stay inside.

One news outlet, La Dernière Heure, reported that there were had been two exchanges of gunfire, and that two suspects had fled onto the rooftops of neighboring buildings. The newspaper Le Soir reported that at least one gunman was on the run, but said the total number was unclear.

Brussels was the hub of the plotters who carried out the meticulously coordinated Paris attacks, which killed 130 people and injured 413 others.

One man believed to have participated in the attacks, Salah Abdeslam, has been the target of an international manhunt. Mr. Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French citizen who was born in Brussels to parents who had emigrated from Morroco, fled to Belgium after the attacks.

On Jan. 8, the police raided an apartment in the Schaerbeek section of Brussels, where they found Mr. Abdeslam’s fingerprint, as well as material that might have been used to assemble suicide belts and traces of an explosive used in the Paris attacks.

The other nine men believed to have taken part in the attacks all died. Eight of them ether blew themselves up or were shot on the night of the attacks, while an organizer of the plot, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, died in a police raid north of Paris on Nov. 18.

The authorities in Belgium and France have carried out hundreds of raids, and held dozens of suspects for questioning, in the aftermath of the attacks. There was no indication that the raid on Tuesday was directly related to the search for Mr. Abdeslam, the fugitive.

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