A gunman yesterday shot dead two police officers with their own weapons before killing a bystander in a brazen suspected terror attack in Belgium, briefly taking a hostage at a school before being killed by police.
The carnage in the gritty eastern industrial city of Liege began at about 10:30am when the attacker armed with a knife stabbed two police officers repeatedly before using their own firearms to kill them, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors said they had launched a terrorist investigation into the incident, which comes with Belgium on high alert after a string of attacks including twin suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016 claimed by the Islamic State group.
“Armed with a knife, the suspect followed and attacked two police officers, and used their own firearms to kill them,” prosecutor Philippe Dulieu told a news conference. “He continued on foot, attacking a parked vehicle where he opened fire on a 22-year-old man in the passenger seat. The young man died. He then continued and entered the Leonie de Waha school. He took a woman working there as hostage.”
“Police intervened and he came out firing on the police officers, wounding several before he was killed,” he added.
Eric van der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, said there were “elements that point in the direction that this is a terrorist act.”
According to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, the shooter was released from prison on Monday and was only known for minor infractions with no known links to extremism.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel condemned what he called “cowardly and blind violence.”
“All our support for the victims and their loved ones. We are following the situation with the security services and the crisis center,” Michel tweeted.
Belgium has been on high alert since the smashing of a terror cell in the town of Verviers in January 2015 that was planning an attack on police.
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