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5 Oct, 2016 15:50

Two policemen stabbed in suspected terror attack in Brussels – prosecutors

Two Belgian police officers were attacked by a knife-wielding man in Brussels’s Schaerbeek neighborhood in an incident reportedly classified as a suspected terrorist act, according to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office.

“We have reason to believe that it is terror-related,” a prosecutor’s spokesman, Eric Van Der Sypt said, though he failed to provide any further details, French media reported.

The suspect carried out the attack as the police officers were trying to check his ID in the Schaarbeek municipality located in the northern part of Brussels, local media reported.

One of the policemen was stabbed in the neck at around noon local time, while the other one was hit in the abdominal area. Their injures were described as non-life-threatening.

"During the ID check on Lambermont Street in the municipality of Schaarbeek (north of Brussels) the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed one policeman in the stomach, an another in the neck. The criminal tried to use a knife against a second patrol who tried to detain him, and then broke the nose of one of the police officers. After that, officers opened fire and injured the attacker in the leg,” TASS quoted the local prosecutor as saying.

The assailant, identified as 43-year-old Hicham D., fled the scene and was later stopped by a second unit of police officers. He broke the nose of a third policeman, who shot the man in the leg. A judge specializing in terror cases will decide whether Hicham D., a Belgian citizen, is to remain in detention or be released, AP reported.

Hicham D., who served in the Belgian military until 2009, allegedly has a record of having links to terrorism-related cases and fighters in Syria, RTBF cited the prosecutor’s office as saying.

“I saw the assailant who struck the officer to the ground... The officer rolled into the bushes but he [the assailant] took after him and continued the beating. After that he hit a woman, she was crying and bleeding. When the police arrived, they got out of the car and shot him,” an eye-witness told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

The attacker didn’t make any statements or demands during the incident, local media reported.

Willy Van Damme, a Belgian journalist, believes that the attack could have been terror-related, but compared to the terror acts in France and Belgium that were very well-planned and organized, this most probably was a lone wolf attack.

“It’s early days to know exactly, but it seems to be a terror attack… It was an individual using a knife,” Van Damme said in an interview with RT, adding that there are “hundreds of Salafists in Belgium capable of carrying out such attacks.”

Today’s assault comes just weeks after two police officers were attacked by a man with a machete shouting “Allahu Akbar” in the Belgian city of Charleroi who was shot dead by security forces.

Tensions have been running high in Belgium since March, when 32 people were killed and more than 300 injured in suicide bombings at the airport and a metro station in Brussels, which was claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants.