Four killed in Belgium hostage incident

Four killed in Belgium hostage incident

Police and ambulance are seen at the site where a gunman shot dead three people, two of them policemen, before being killed by elite officers, in the eastern Belgian city of Liege on 29 May 2018.

The man, who was later killed by police, approached two officers from behind carrying a knife and stabbed them several times, said Philippe Dulieu, spokesman for the Liege prosecutor's office.

He shot dead a 22-year-old trainee teacher who was sitting in a auto before entering a high school about 100 meters (yards) away and taking two female employees hostage.

Media reports said the gunman shot dead two police officers at a cafe before fleeing to the Lycee Waha school, where he took a cleaning lady hostage.

The gunman also took a cleaner hostage at a school before being killed by police.

The terrorism threat level in Belgium has not been raised, despite the federal authorities saying that it might be a terrorist act.

The country's federal crisis centre said there was "absolutely no confirmation yet that the incident is terror-related".

As European citizens who fought for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq return to Europe, counterterrorism officials are increasingly focusing on the problem of radicalization in prisons, where some people without previous terrorism connections are being sucked into the ideology.

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Christian Beaupere, the head of the Liege police force, said: "It is clear that the assassin's objective was to attack the police".

Authorities say the killer, Benjamin Herman, 36, was radicalized in jail and on an anti-terror watchlist. Two other people have been wounded.

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

Belgium's King Philippe, Michel and the country's justice and interior ministers traveled to Liege to confer with local officials.

A passerby was also reported to have been killed in the shoot-out on Tuesday morning and at least two other police officers were injured.

Brussels itself had three suicide bombings in March 2016, with 32 people killed.

Liege is an industrial city close to the German border in the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium.

Four officers were wounded, two in the legs and two in the arms, before Herman was finally shot about 30 minutes after he launched his initial attack.

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