Four gunmen have entered an apartment in the western Belgian city of Ghent – and police have gathered outside the building.
It remained unclear whether a hostage had been taken, but authorities maintained that the incident did not appear to be an act of terrorism.
Federal police spokeswoman Annemie Serlippens said: “There appears to be nothing political. And it does not seem to be going that way.”
Ms Serlippens added that comparison should not be made with the on-going café siege in Sydney, Australia.
By mid-morning a large police operation of around 30 officers had been set up in the working-class neighbourhood of Dampoort to keep bystanders away from the scene.
Police spokesman Manuel Mugica Gonzalez told De Standaard that local residents shad been advised to remain indoors for their own safety but no one had been evacuated.
Media reported that two months ago there was a hostage incident in Ghent linked to extortion.
Additional reporting by agencies