Gunman kills three in Belgium after seizing police weapons

An attack by a prisoner who shot dead two policewomen and a male bystander in the Belgian city of Liege is being treated as a possible terror attack, the Prime Minister Charles Michel has said.

The gunman, named by local media as Benjamin Herman, 36, attacked the two female officers from behind and stabbed them several times before shooting them with their own guns.

He also shot dead a man sitting in a car nearby and took a woman hostage inside a school, before being killed by police.

It is understood the suspected gunman was a serving prisoner who was on day release when he carried out the attack.

Mr Michel said the convict was mentioned in state security reports on radicalization, amid reports that the gunman may have been indoctrinated into extremism while in prison.

He had a criminal record that included theft, assault and drug offenses, according to state broadcaster RTBF.

Belgium's crisis centre says it will not raise the terror threat level.
Belgium’s crisis centre says it will not raise the terror threat level. Credit: AP

Liege’s police chief Christian Beaupere said the two slain policewomen were aged 45 and 53, and the older woman was a mother to twins.

He said the attacker’s motive was to “target the police”‘

The gunman also shot dead a 22-year-old man in a car and took a woman hostage inside a nearby school.

The rampage ended when the attacker opened fire on police responding to the incident. He died in the shootout.

Four officers were wounded, one of whom was seriously injured with a severed femoral artery.

Liege police chief Christian Beaupere sais the gunman had targeted officers.
Liege police chief Christian Beaupere sais the gunman had targeted officers. Credit: AP

Officials at the Belgium’s crisis centre said security in Liege is now under control and there were no plans to raise the country’s terror threat alert in response.

A spokeswoman for the city mayor’s office, Laurence Comminette, told reporters that all the children at the school involved in the attack were safe.

Officials are now facing questions over whether the suspect should have been more closely scrutinized as a potential terrorist.

Asked about reports that Herman had been radicalized in prison, Justice Minister Koen Geens said “at the moment there is very little consistent we can say about that.”

“In any case, he is not a clear-cut case, on the contrary,” Geens said. “He certainly was not someone who could clearly be qualified as radicalized. Otherwise he would have been known as such by all services.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said her thoughts are with those affected by the “cowardly attack” and the UK “stands resolute” against terror.