Eyewitnesses told local channel VRT that the hostage-taking unfolded at about 7 p.m. local time, in a Carrefour chain store, after what they claimed was a robbery attempt gone wrong. Those who managed to leave the supermarket said the suspect was armed with a knife, and forced shoppers to lie down on the floor.
BELGIQUE : Prise d’otages en cours dans un supermarché de Forest, à Bruxelles. 15 personnes sont retenues en otage par un individu armé. pic.twitter.com/qkqt5kuQ4N— Infos Françaises (@InfosFrancaises) October 18, 2016
The area was quickly sealed off, and a special team, supported by a helicopter, was sent to disarm the suspect.
Within minutes, the man, who appeared to have issued no demands, was apprehended.
While there has been no suggestion that the hostage-taking was a terrorist attack, police and residents in the Belgian capital have been on high alert over potential incidents in public places, following a deadly airport and train station bombing in the city in March this year.
At dawn on Tuesday, security forces raided 15 houses across the country, taking four men into custody, who now face charges of abetting radical Islamist organizations.