Belgian police cordoned off part of the city after the four men were seen entering the building in the Dampoort district, where they took a hostage.
“For the time being we have no indication that there is a link to terrorism,” a spokeswoman for state prosecutors said.
The incident occurred hours after Australian police locked down the center of Sydney after an armed man walked into a downtown cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag.
Belgian authorities had yet to establish contact with the Ghent hostage-takers, the spokeswoman said.
Television footage showed police blocking traffic at a cordoned off intersection while a helicopter hovered overhead and sirens blared in the background.