Belgium investigates deadly Liège shooting as terrorist incident

A gunman killed two police officers and a passerby in the eastern Belgian city of Liège on Tuesday before he was shot dead by police, prosecutors have said, adding that the shooting is being investigated as a terrorist incident.

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The shooting occurred around 10:30am local time (8:30 GMT) near a high school on a major artery in the city, which lies some 90 kilometres east of Brussels.

The local public prosecutor said the man attacked the two officers from behind with a knife, took one of their guns and shot them both dead, before killing a passenger in a car parked nearby.

Liège’s mayor’s office later confirmed that both of the police officers killed were women.

The assailant took refuge in a school where he was killed in a subsequent gunfight during which several other police officers were wounded, the prosecutor added.

Images on social media showed people scurrying for safety on the Boulevard d’Avroy with shots and sirens being heard in the background. One video showed two policemen in body armour moving into position.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims, said it was too early to determine the assailant’s motives.

Jan Jambon, the interior minister, said the country’s Federal Crisis Centre was monitoring the situation.

“Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrible act. We are in the process of establishing an overview of exactly what happened,” Jambon wrote on Twitter.

Liège, an industrial city close to the German border in the French-speaking Wallonia region, was also the scene of a shooting in 2011, when a gunman killed four people and wounded over 100 before turning the gun on himself.

Belgium has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State (IS) group cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)