Brussels suburb reopened after 'gunman' scare

Update 6pm: Belgian police sealed off part of a Brussels suburb on Thursday and searched two apartments, warning residents to stay inside following witness reports that an armed man could be at large.

The area in the Forest neighbourhood was reopened after about three hours and police spokeswoman Kathleen Calie later confirmed the incident was not terror-related.

The incident began after a Polish man reported what he said was a murder, Ms Calie said. When police arrived at the address they found nothing. "It seems he may have expressed himself badly," Ms Calie said.

But witnesses there said that an incident had happened at a nearby building and they reported seeing an armed man, so officers from Belgium's special federal police force were called in, she said.

Police guard a corner during a police operation in Brussels.

Update 2.30pm: Belgian police say an incident involving a suspected armed man in Brussels is not terror-related.

Brussels police spokeswoman Kathleen Calie said officers from Belgium's special federal force were deployed to the Forest suburb following witness accounts that an armed person could be at large.

A search of one building produced nothing, and a second search is ongoing.

Ms Calie said "we can rule out terrorism."

Police sealed off part of the neighbourhood and Associated Press television images showed armed officers hiding behind buildings and staking out a rooftop in the area.

Masked police, some with automatic weapons, were aiming their guns high at a building near the Place Saint-Denis. A police helicopter flew overhead.

Broadcaster RTL quoted Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels as saying that police "suspect the presence of an armed man". The area was sealed off at around 12.30pm local time and people were warned to stay in their homes.

A suspect in the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015, Salah Abdeslam, hid in Forest and was caught up in a shootout with police in a nearby apartment.

Belgium recently lowered its threat level after almost two years on high alert. In March 2016 suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and an underground station killed 32 people.

File image of Police patroling in Brussels, Belgium.

Earlier: Police lock down part of Brussels amid gunman reports

Belgian police have sealed off part of a Brussels suburb amid media reports that an armed man could be at large.

Associated Press television images showed armed police officers hiding behind buildings and staking out a building rooftop in the Forest neighbourhood of the Belgian capital.

A police helicopter flew overhead.

Broadcaster RTL quoted Forest mayor Marc-Jean Ghyssels as saying that police "suspect the presence of an armed man".

A suspect in the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015, Salah Abdeslam, hid in Forest and was caught up in a shootout with police in a nearby apartment.

There was no immediate indication that today's incident is terror-related.

This is a breaking news story, more as we get it...

 

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