BELGIUM POLICE OFFICERS MACHETE ATTACK.jpg
Police Officers from Charleroi Police Zone patrol the place where two police officers were attacked with machetes in Charleroi, Belgium, 06 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

A man who attacked two police officers in the Belgian city of Charleroi this weekend has been identified as a 33-year-old Algerian national, prosecutors said Sunday, while the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility.

On Saturday afternoon, the man - identified only as KB - approached a checkpoint outside the Charleroi police headquarters. He called out "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest, in Arabic) before lashing out with a machete at the heads of two female officers.

Both officers sustained serious injuries to the face and neck, the state prosecution said in a statement. The police had previously said that one officer was taken to hospital with serious cuts, while the other was only slightly injured.

A third police woman on site at the time of the attack shot the perpetrator, who later died in hospital.

An inquiry is under way into "attempted terrorist murder," Prime Minister Charles Michel said in a press conference Sunday, posted online by broadcaster RTBF.

A bag the man had carried at the time of the attack did not contain arms or explosives, the prosecution said. Two properties around Charleroi were searched overnight.

The perpetrator, who had been living in Belgium since 2012, was known to police for common law infractions but had not been suspected of terrorist links, the prosecution statement added.

He was staying illegally in the country at the time of the attack, having twice ignored orders to leave the country, the office of State Secretary for Migration Theo Francken later said in a statement, according to the Belga news agency.

Forced returns to Algeria are "problematic," despite years of negotiations, Francken said in the statement.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed the attacker as one of its "soldiers," in a statement issued by the Aamaq News Agency. The group's propaganda mouthpiece has made similar claims for recent attacks in France, Germany and the United States.

The incident follows a series of knife and gun attacks across Europe, including the June killing of a police commander and his partner in France, with some of the incidents being linked to terrorist motives.

In March, the Belgian capital was also the site of coordinated suicide bombings that left more than 30 people dead.

The country's 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. A debate is under way on whether to let agents carry their gun off-duty, he later said. Michel 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 seen 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.

More on this story

Charleroi machete attacker was living illegally in Belgium

A 33-year-old Algerian man who attacked two police officers with a machete on Saturday was staying illegally in Belgium, despite being ordered to leave the country, says the office of State Secretary for Migration Theo Francken, the Belga news agency reports.

Belgian police kill machete-wielding man who attacked two officers

Two female police officers in the Belgian city of Charleroi were injured Saturday by a man wielding a machete who called out "Allahu Akbar," or "God is greatest," in Arabic, city police said.

Two female police officers attacked with machete in Belgium

Two female police officers in the Belgian city of Charleroi were injured Saturday by a person armed with a machete, who was calling "Allahu Akbar," the city police wrote on Twitter.

Latest news

Merkel calls for fewer EU regulations as nationalist sentiments grow

As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.

French prosecutors transfer Fillon case to investigative judge

The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation in connection with presidential candidate Francois Fillon to examine whether the employment of his wife as a parliamentary employee was a sham, the country's financial prosecutors' office said Friday.

White House bars major news outlets from press briefing

Major news organizations, which were Friday blocked by the White House from attending an informal press briefing, condemned the move just hours after President Donald Trump described parts of the media as "the enemy of the people."

Report: German intelligence spied on BBC, other foreign journalists

Germany's intelligence agency monitored foreign journalists at the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations from 1999 onwards across several countries, according to a Friday report from Der Spiegel magazine.

Classroom for Islamic religious education opened in Split

A classroom for Islamic religious education, whose equipment was financially assisted by city and county authorities, was opened in the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Ministry say no licences for export of military goods to Saudi Arabia issued in 2016

The Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Ministry on Friday issued a statement regarding media reports about export licences for military goods, stressing that in 2016 it did not issue any licences for the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia.

Croatia for preserving Bosnia's stability

Croatia on Friday supported the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), calling on its authorities to adopt decisions in institutions, after a request by BiH Presidency Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic to review a ruling which acquitted Serbia of genocide.

Mexico is not a migrant "waiting room" for US, interior minister says

Mexico will not accept undocumented immigrants from other countries whom the United States plans to deport, Mexico's interior minister said Friday.

Right-wing populist Wilders declines first Dutch election debate

Candidates from nine Dutch parties answered questions from journalists Friday at the first national radio debate of the election campaign, but the leading candidate

Bosnian Croat reps insist on channel airing programmes in Croatian

Being one of the constituent peoples, the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are entitled to a broadcaster that will air programmes in their native language, HNS BiH official Ivan Vukoja said at a news conference in Mostar on Friday.

Same-sex couples in Slovenia can marry

A Slovenian law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into force on Friday and the first civil registrar ceremony, between two women, is to take place in Maribor on Saturday, the town's Vecer daily said.

Moody's changes Agrokor's outlook to negative

The Moody's rating agency on Friday changed its outlook for the Agrokor food retailer from stable to negative, affirming its rating of B3.