A police officer was killed today in Charleroi, southern Belgiumduring an investigation into a case of arms and drug trafficking.

The suspect was also fatally wounded in the exchange of fire while two other policemen were injured and one is in critical condition.

According to Charleroi prosecutor Vincent Fias, the events unfolded around 6.30 in the morning when a team of special forces of the federal police went to search the house of the suspect. The latter “greeted” the police officers with a gun in hand and “literally emptied the magazine”, hiding behind a door.

One of the policemen was killed on the spot. Reinforcements were sent to the scene to enable them to enter the house. The suspect was found injured inside the house and succumbed a short time later to the hospital where he was taken.

The prosecutor said the officers were acting as part of an investigation into “gang formation, drug trafficking, vehicle and weapons smuggling”.

The Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Cro and the interior and justice ministers expressed their condolences to the family of the 36-year-old police officer who was killed.

“This is a dark day for the Belgian police,” commented Eric Schneck, the acting director of the federal police.