Gunman kills one civilian and two police officers in Liège, Belgium
A gunman has killed two female police officers and one civilian in the eastern Belgian city of Liège in a suspected terror attack.
The assailant, named as Benjamin Herman, reportedly seized the police officer's own service weapons and stabbed them before shooting them near Cafe des Augustins on Boulevard d'Avroy.
After, he moved on to kill a 22-year-old man who was sat in the passenger seat of a car that was parked nearby. Then he moved to Atheneum Léonie de Waha school, where he took a female cleaner hostage. She was released when police shot the 36-year-old attacker dead.
Two further police officers were injured in the shootout, but students from the school were moved to safety and none were harmed in the incident.
The gunman's motive is not yet clear, but local prosecutors have stated that terrorism is the "likely" motivation for the attack. A senior official at the prosecutor's office told reporters "there are indications it could be a terror attack". In addition, Liege police chief Christian Beaupere claimed that the attacker's goal was to "target police". Belgium investigators have now opened a terrorism inquiry.
Early reports state that Belgian national Herman was a drug dealer and robber who was radicalised behind bars, and was out on day release. La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source as saying that the "radicalised" gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest" in Arabic) while carrying out the massacre.
Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon has revealed that the shooter "also committed a murder the night before". Herman allegedly killed a former prisoner he did jail time with by hitting him over the head with a blunt object.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, claimed that the assailant had been indirectly mentioned in state security reports on radicalisation but was not on a watchlist, saying: "Different services considered that, based on the elements they had, there was no reason to give him such a qualification." The level of threat in the country has not been raised from being “unlikely”.
All three victims of the brutal attack have now been named. The police officers have been identified as Lucile Garcia, 53, and Soraya Belkacemi, 45, while the civilian killed was 22-year-old Cyril Vangriecken.
Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel has said that his thoughts were with the families of the victims after the "serious incident", describing the attacks as "cowardly and blind violence". He stated he would not give any further details at this point in time.
In addition, Liège mayor Willy Demeyer claimed during a press conference that "physical and psychological support" would be provided to the families of the victims. He added that "all flags on municipal buildings" were to be flown at half-mast, a book of condolences would be placed in the local town hall and a service would be held at 13:00 local time on Wednesday to honour the victims of the attack.