According to investigators, the perpetrator shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he attacked the patrolling police officers,
A man who fatally stabbed a Brussels police officer and wounded another policerman Thursday night near the North train station in Brussels before being shot and arrested was already on a watch list maintained by Belgium’s terrorism monitoring agency, prosecutors said.
The incident represents yet another suspected instance of jihadist terrorism in the European country, which suffered many deadly attacks in recent years.
Investigators told reporters that the suspect “Yassine M.”, who was born in Brussels in 1990, had shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he lunged at two officers in a patrol car.
One of the policemen, identified as 29-year-old Thomas M., was stabbed in the throat and died shortly afterwards. The second 23-year-old officer has been operated on for wounds to the right arm and will survive.
The federal prosecutor has referred the case to an investigating magistrate as an alleged “murder and an attempted murder committed in a terrorist context.”
Before the attack, the suspect had presented himself at a Brussels police station making what the head of the Brussels prosecutor’s office described as “incoherent remarks.”
“He spoke of hatred against the police and asked to be taken care of psychologically,” De Wolf said.
Yassine M. was taken by officers to the psychiatric emergency room of a Brussels hospital, but was not arrested or detained as he did not, the officials said, meet the criteria for a involuntary committal.
“Later, the police contacted the hospital again to check whether the person had been kept under observation. It turned out that he had left the hospital,” the Brussels prosecutor’s office said.
Yassine M. was imprisoned between 2013 and 2019 for “common law offences” but was also on a list of radicalized people drawn up by the Belgian terror observatory the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM), which monitors extremism.
Policeman killed, colleague wounded in knife attack in Brussels
Police from the Brussels-North zone were on patrol on Rue d’Aerschot in Schaerbeek, Brussels, when they were attacked by a knife-wielding individual at around 7:15 PM on Thursday evening. One officer was wounded in the neck and has since died of his injuries.
According to various media reports, the perpetrator shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he attacked the patrolling police officers, but this information was not immediately confirmed by the public prosecutor’s office.
A perimeter has been set up and an investigation launched by the prosecutor’s office.
“Our police officers risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of our citizens. Today’s tragedy demonstrates this once again,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter on Thursday evening following the knife attack, in which a police officer was killed and another wounded.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased officer,” the Prime Minister said. “My sincere hope is that his hospitalised colleague will be fine.”