“Police operations have not stopped in the night and are still going on” said the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, after the shooting took place in Brussels’ Forest neighborhood. The head of the government mentioned “police officers’ and magistrates’ maximum mobilization”. Michel has convened the National Security Council, which brings together key ministers and officials of the country’s security services. Michel has asked however “the population to keep calm”.
Yesterday, a terrorist was killed and two suspects were arrested by the end of the day. The man who was eliminated is not Abdeslam Salah, one of the masterminds of Paris attacks of 13 November who is still free. One of the two arrested was stopped last night, whereas the other one this morning. The blitz followed the shooting in the Forest neighborhood. Everything started out as a routine operation – like many others conducted after Paris attacks -, looking for the main wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, along with the minds of Black Friday in the French capital.
After the attacks in Paris, Brussels and Paris have decided to join forces and cooperate in their investigations to track down the jihadists. For some time now, they have been carrying on joint operations. This time, they were on the track of the false identities used by the group of terrorists to prepare the attacks, following the track of knowledge of some of the 11 arrested in Belgium, of which at least one, a friend of the suicide bombers of the Stade de France, Bilal Hadfi, connected exactly to the Forest neighborhood. In the early afternoon, at around 3 pm, Police forces knocked at the door of an apartment in rue du Dries, which was supposed to be empty.
Gunshots fly immediately through the closed door, wounding three policemen. At 3.20pm, another volley of shots seriously injured the fourth person. At least one person flees across the roofs and hides in an empty lot nearby. A dog with a camera was sent there to scout, but it was soon forced to retreat under the gunfire. In the meantime, the security perimeter is isolated in the neighborhood, which will hold ‘hostage’ in safety the children of four schools till dinner time.
Around 6pm, Special Forces began a blitz, using helicopters to locate the fugitive(s), and snipers on the roofs. In the apartment, they found the body of one of the alleged terrorists. Very few details leak from the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office and from police. During the culminating moment of the operation, the media and citizens were asked not to communicate on social networks – as it had already happened in November, when the Web was swarming with kittens – about the location of the Franco-Belgian team, so as not to compromise the outcome of their action. The only certain thing is that the person killed in the fire fight “is not Salah Abdeslam,” the prosecutor confirmed, adding that his identity “is still unknown.” According to some Belgian media, this person is absolutely unknown to the police.