30 May 2018Hot off the Press
A gunman has killed two police officers and one civilian after he opened fire in the centre of the Belgian city of Liege, in what is being called a terrorist attack.
The suspect was identified as a 36-year-old petty criminal and drug dealer who had just been released from jail on Monday morning (local time). He was shot dead by police.
According to the ABC, a Belgian politician said that the man had been on a terrorist watch list after he was radicalised in jail, apparently as a convert to Islam, which has raised questions as to why he was released unsupervised.
Officials say that the suspect approached two policewomen, aged 45 and 53, from behind with a knife at about 10:30am on a boulevard in the centre of Belgium’s third biggest city.
After slashing the officers, the man seized their handguns and shot both.
He also shot dead a 22-year-old trainee teacher who was sitting in a car, before entering a high school about 100 metres away and taking two female employees hostage.
“The young man who was killed in the vehicle was a pupil of the high school in Liège, he was going to qualify as a primary school teacher in the next few weeks,” Liege Mayor Willy Demeyer said.
Armed police officers with shields, helmets, and bulletproof vests then arrived at the scene and “intervened”.
The attacker began firing at the officers in an attempt to escape. Two officers were shot in the leg, leaving one officer in a serious condition.
Two other officers received injuries to their arms before the attacker was shot dead.
“The goal of the assassin was to target the police,” Liege Police Chief Christian Beaupere told a press conference.
The case highlights the uprising problem of petty criminals becoming radicalised while incarcerated.
The latest terror attacks in Europe have been at the hands of petty criminals who use little more than knives and rental trucks.
Confirming the attacker was on the police watchlist, politician George Dallemagne, who sits on several Belgian parliamentary security committees, tweeted: “The supervision of radicalised prisoners remains tragically flawed.”