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Shots fired as police launch dramatic anti-terror attack in Brussels

NewsBy Niamh Cluskey
Shots fired as police launch dramatic anti-terror attack in Brussels

Belgian police launched a major anti-terrorist raid for suspects linked to last November's Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Belgian police have launched a manhunt in a Brussels neighbourhood after at least one gunman opened fire on officers during an anti-terror raid linked to last year's Paris attacks, officials said.

Two men with assault rifles opened fire on officers when they prepared to storm a suspected jihadi safehouse in the Belgian capital.

Three police officers were injured after shots were fired in a neighbourhood in Brussels by a suspect who is still on the run.

A helicopter was hovering overhead to patrol the area as police were still looking for at least one gunman who fled the scene.

"Two individuals apparently barricaded themselves inside a home," Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels said.

It was not immediately clear if the two people escaped, or whether police were searching for more people.

The lockdown in the area continued more than an hour after the first shots were fired and is close to Molenbeek, home to several people involved in the Paris attacks.

Armed police officers surrounded the neighbourhood where suspected Jihadis were hiding, while ambulances were on standby.

A police official has said that the three police officers were slightly injured when shots were fired but the exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear.

Belgian police and magistrates have still been piecing together the role Belgian nationals played in aiding the Paris attackers.

Officials are also trying to track down missing suspects including international fugitive Salah Abdeslam, whose brother Brahim was one of the suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacked.

The suspected ringleader of the attacks was a Brussels resident, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Another attacker, Bilal Hadfi, was said to have lived for a time in the Forest neighbourhood.

Belgian authorities have stepped up their counter-terror efforts since a lone gunman killed four people at the Brussels Jewish museum in May 2014.

The small Western European country has been prime recruiting ground for Islamic State.