Gunman kills 2 police officers, passerby and takes hostage in Belgian city of Liege
Belgian authorities are investigating the killing of two policewomen and a passerby in the eastern city of Liege on Tuesday as a terror attack, the country’s prosecutor said.
Belgian media, including CNN affiliate RTBF, are naming the gunman as Benjamin Herman. A spokesperson for the Brussels prosecutor told CNN the attacker, who was shot dead by police, was 31 years old and had the initials B.H. but declined to provide the full name.
RTBF reported that Herman was let out of prison on temporary release on Monday. He had been serving time on drug offenses. It said he may have been radicalized while in jail.
The incident occurred around 10:30 a.m., when the assailant stabbed two policewomen from behind before stealing their service weapons and using them on the officers, Liege Prosecutor Philippe Dulieu said at a news conference on Tuesday.
After killing the two officers, the attacker continued walking through the street and opened fire on a parked vehicle, fatally wounding the driver inside, Dulieu said.
According to the prosecutor, the suspect then took refuge in a local high school, where he held a woman hostage. When police intervened, the man opened fire, injuring several other officers, before he was shot dead.
Authorities told the BBC that the shooter had been “neutralized” and that the situation was contained. No details have yet been confirmed regarding the condition of the shooter or the hostage.
A separate report by Belgium’s public broadcaster, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), claimed that police had indicated that the gunman had been killed.
According to Reuters, a third victim, reportedly a passerby, was also shot and killed in the attack. Two other victims, identified as police officers, were wounded in the shooting.
The La Libre Belgique newspaper, citing a police source, claimed that the gunman yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.
Other local media outlets said investigators suspected the attack may have been an act of terrorism.
“It is clear that the objective of the assassin was to target the police,” the head of Liege Police, Christian Beaupere, said later Tuesday. Beaupere said he wanted to reassure parents that the gunman did not plan to attack a school. “His objective was not to kill in a school but to harm the police, the institutions and the state of Belgium.”
He refused to comment further on the investigation, saying the case is now with the Belgian prosecutor’s office.
In December 2011, 33-year-old Nordine Amrani, a Belgian national of Moroccan heritage, opened fire at a shopping center in Liege and threw grenades, killing six. Amrani later committed suicide.
By: David Rosenberg
(INN & CNN)
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