Belgian attack on police officers being treated as terrorist act

An attack this weekend on two female police officers by a machete-wielding man in the Belgian city of Charleroi is being classed as a terrorist act, Prime Minister Charles Michel said Sunday.

The attacker called out "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest, in Arabic) immediately before launching the attack on Saturday, which left one of the two officers with very serious injuries in her face. Her colleague suffered light injuries.

The man was shot by a third officer on the scene and later died in hospital. He has not yet been formally identified.

"We have been informed by the federal prosecution that an inquiry had immediately begun for attempted terrorist murder," Michel said at a press conference, posted online by broadcaster RTBF.

The incident, which took place at a checkpoint outside the Charleroi police headquarters, follows a series of knife and gun attacks across Europe in recent weeks, some of which are being linked to terrorist motives.

In Belgium, more than 30 people died in coordinated suicide bombing attacks in March.

The Belgian threat analysis unit, OCAM, has decided not to change the security alert level at present, Michel said. The country is at level 3 - the second highest - indicating a serious and likely risk of attack.

However, extra security measures will be introduced to protect police officers, the prime minister added. He had cut short his holiday for a meeting earlier Sunday with the National Security Council.

Meanwhile, in the city of Liege, 95 kilometres east of Brussels, a man was spotted wielding a machete early Sunday, the Belga news agency reported. The area was evacuated and the suspect, identified as a man of Turkish origin aged around 20, was detained soon afterwards.

Last update: Sun, 07/08/2016 - 13:41
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