One police officer was killed and another wounded in a knife attack in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Thursday.
The attack occurred shortly after 7 p.m. in the Schaerbeek district of the city, nearby the Brussels-North railway station.
“One of our patrols was attacked by a man armed with a knife,” a Brussels-North police spokesperson said. “The two police officers then called for reinforcements. A policeman from another patrol used his firearm to neutralize the attacker. The two injured inspectors and the attacker were taken to the hospital. The Brussels public prosecutor’s office has been informed of the facts,” they added.
Several local media outlets reported the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” immediately before the attack, however prosecutors are not confirming or denying this currently, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
The French-language Belgian daily La Libre Belgique also reported the suspect had earlier been summoned to his local police station following a traffic violation. The suspect appeared at the police station on Thursday morning and, after his case had been dealt with, said he would attack police officers later in the day. A report was written up at the police station, and he was released.
The perpetrator had first attacked two police officers in a street near the train station, and the police had called for reinforcements. The suspect reportedly then attacked the officers who arrived at the scene with a knife, but one of them “incapacitated” him with a firearm. According to media reports, the attacker was shot in the leg and abdomen.
Sarah Durant, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, said an investigation had been ordered into the circumstances of the attack. The spokeswoman promised an update later on Thursday or on Friday morning, the daily added.
The Schaerbeek district of the Belgian capital is one of the poorer neighborhoods of Brussels, with a large immigrant — mainly Turkish and Moroccan, but also European — Muslim community. The neighborhood became notorious after it emerged that one of the perpetrators, Najim Laachraoui, of the 2016 terrorist attack at Brussels airport, which killed 35 people, was from here.
The other notorious neighborhood is Molenbeek, just a few minutes’ drive away, where Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving perpetrator of the Paris terror attack, grew up.