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Belgian police kill terror suspect after French tip-off

Belgian police on Tuesday killed a man suspected of terrorist links after a motorway chase and shoot-out, acting on a tip-off from French authorities. The suspect was a known figure in the Brussels criminal underworld, local officials said.

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Belgian police shot dead a man of Algerian origin suspected of terrorist links after a motorway pursuit Tuesday, moving in after an investigation that was triggered by a tip-off from French officials.

In a statement issued early Wednesday, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls praised Belgium for its anti-terrorism cooperation.

The shoot-out took place in the early afternoon on the motorway linking the capital Brussels and the southern city of Tournai as police chased the man down, the Belga news agency reported.

The suspect was a known figure in the Brussels criminal underworld, said Tournai prosecutor Marie-Claude Maertens, the agency reported.

When police decided to move in to arrest him, he refused repeated calls to stop and then drove at police officers, opening fire at them. The police fired back, fatally wounding him, she added.

Later Tuesday, the federal prosecutors office told reporters that Belgian investigators had opened their investigation into the 30-year-old man in response to two French requests for information about him late last year.

French investigators had said they suspected he belonged to a criminal gang with terrorist ties.

The Belgian investigation established that the man was buying military equipment including weapons, bullet-proof clothing and telescopic sights.

After police linked him to an armed robbery at a restaurant in Brussels last Thursday, they decided to move in and arrest him.

Following the motorway shoot-out, police searched the suspect's home in Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. There, they found weapons, ammunition and explosives.

Police will display the arsenal they found at the suspect's flat on Wednesday. Officers also arrested a woman and were questioning her Tuesday night, Belga reported.

From Paris, Valls said early Wednesday that he had spoken to his Belgian counterpart Joelle Milquet after the shooting.

He praised Belgium for its "determination to pursue bilateral cooperation in the long and difficult struggle against terrorism".

And he confirmed that the two countries had been collaborating closely on the operation to investigate the suspect, with France's internal security anti-terrorism service, the DCRI, involved.

For several hours during the search of the suspect's house, police sealed off the road outside his home and evacuated residents while they checked for booby traps. They let people back into their homes later that evening, RTL-TVI television reported.

(AFP)

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