The prosecutor said the man attacked the two officers from behind with a knife, took one of their guns and shot them both dead. He also shot dead a young man who was the passenger in a parked car, before taking refuge in a school where he was killed in a subsequent gunfight during which several other police were wounded.
Public broadcaster RTBF named the alleged assailant as a 36-year-old Belgian who had been released on parole from a prison near Liege, close to the German and Dutch borders, on Monday (May 28). He was serving time for drug offences and classified as “unstable”, according to RTBF.
La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source as saying the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar” — God is greatest in Arabic — and RTBF said investigators were looking into whether he might have been converted to Islam and radicalised in prison.
Liege, the biggest city in Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region, was the scene of a mass shooting in 2011, when a gunman killed four people and wounded more than 100 others before turning the gun on himself.
Belgium has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.