Daesh claims deadly attack on Belgium police: propaganda agency

Police at the scene

Police at the scene

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that an investigation was under way into what he called an isolated incident and also speculated to local media that Herman may have been radicalized in prison, but said authorities were still working on a motive.

The source said Herman had past convictions for robbery, violence, and drug dealing.

Belgian media, including CNN affiliate RTBF, are naming the gunman as Benjamin Herman.

Investigators said Herman's methods were encouraged in online videos produced by the Islamic State militant group.

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel said he was following the situation closely and expressed his support for those caught up in the shooting.

The shooter killed a bystander then reportedly took a female cleaner hostage inside the nearby school, before being shot dead himself by an elite police unit in the centre of the city. The gunman was then shot and killed, officials said.

She answered yes to both, she said, and he replied that he would not harm her.

"I told him: 'you are in a school here, you can not come in a school, it is not right what you are doing, ' " she said.

Mr Geens added it was the fourteenth time the assailant had been granted temporary leave in an effort to help him "prepare" for an eventual release in 2020.

"There are signals that there was radicalization in the prison but did this radicalization lead to these actions?"

Police have revealed Herman was known to authorities for years, predominantly as a petty criminal with a record that included theft, drug offences and assault.




Justice Minister Koen Geens defended the decision to release him, saying it was meant to help him prepare for his full release scheduled for 2020.

It is not the first time Liege has been hit by a similarly violent attack.

But he admitted that he had to "examine" his conscience following the attacks.

"I feel responsible because I have responsibility for prisons".

Belgium has been on high alert since the smashing of a terror cell in the town of Verviers in January 2015 that was planning an attack on police.

On Tuesday morning, the man stabbed two policewomen from behind before stealing their service weapons and using them to kill the officers.

During Tuesday's attack, Herman, who was on a two-day release from prison, crept up behind two female police officers, stabbed them repeatedly, stole their handguns and shot them in the back.

He fatally shot dead Mr Vangriecken, who had nearly finished studying to become a teacher, as he sat in the parked vehicle, according to RTBF. He then took two women hostage inside the school.

When asked how two officers could have been disarmed, Jambon said "the police did an extraordinary job".

Two other police officers had been injured, a spokeswoman for the Liege public prosecutors office said.

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