Belgian police storm apartment to end Ghent siege

Belgian police officers and special forces stand at the entrance of a building, where four gunmen have taken a man hostage, in Ghent on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Belgian police officers and special forces stand at the entrance of a building, where four gunmen have taken a man hostage, in Ghent on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

GHENT, Belgium (REUTERS) - Belgian armed police stormed an apartment in the western city of Ghent on Monday to end a siege after reports that gunmen had taken a hostage there.

The victim was safe and well and three other men had been detained, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors said. "Three men have been taken away though there were no weapons found. The earlier reports were of four men with kalashnikovs,"she said. "...It's not entirely clear whether someone was in fact taken hostage." Armed police in balaclavas emerged at about 1 p.m from the cordoned-off building in the Dampoort district. "It's over," one police officer said.

Belgian broadcaster VRT cited neighbours as saying that the flat had been used by drug dealers.

The incident occurred within hours of Australian police locking down the centre of Sydney after an armed man walked into a downtown cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag.

The Belgian prosecution spokeswoman said there was no indication of a link in the Ghent case to terrorism. "It's really nothing along the lines of what is happening in Sydney," she said.