LIEGE, Belgium: A man killed two policewomen and a bystander in the Belgian city of Liege on Tuesday before being shot dead in a gunbattle at a school in what prosecutors are treating as a terrorist attack.
The man was named by public broadcaster RTBF as a 36-year-old petty criminal who had been let out on day-release from a local prison on Monday.
A public prosecutor told a news conference that the man attacked the policewomen from behind with a knife, described as a box-cutter by RTBF, around 10:30 a.m. (4.30 a.m. ET) on a boulevard in the center of Belgium’s third city, near the German border.
After stabbing the officers, prosecutor Philippe Dulieu said, the man seized one of their handguns and shot both women dead before walking down the street and shooting dead a 22-year-old man who was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car.
The man then made his way into a high school where he took a woman employee hostage, triggering a major intervention by armed police. Pupils were moved to safety as a gunbattle broke out that sent people in the street racing for cover. Several police were wounded before the attacker was finally killed.
“The event is classed as a terrorist incident,” Dulieu said.
Apparently the two police officers, arms bare on what was a hot sunny morning, wearing protective vests and lying in pools of blood a couple of meters apart outside a cafe; the gunman, dressed in black, waving a pistol in each hand, standing in the middle of the road; and finally the assailant emerging from a building onto the street, firing on police, who gun him down.
Prime Minister Charles Michel, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims, said it was too early to say what had caused the incident. King Philippe visited Liege, the biggest city in Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region.—Reuters