Man shot dead in Brussels after attacking soldiers with a knife while screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’
Brussels mayor said the alert status, already just one off the maximum level, had not been increased
Belgian soldiers shot dead a man in the centre of Brussels on Friday evening after he came at them with a knife shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), in a case authorities are treating as a terrorist attack.
The man, a 30-year-old Belgian of Somali origin, died after being rushed to hospital.
Federal prosecutor spokeswoman Esther Natus said “the suspect is dead” in the clash Friday night and one soldier was “slightly injured.”
The soldiers were not seriously hurt in the attack; one had a facial wound and the other’s hand was wounded.
— Thomas da Silva Rosa (@tdasilvarosa) August 25, 2017
“A man armed with a knife attacked a group of soldiers. The soldiers fired at him and neutralised the individual,” said Belgian Federal Police spokesman, Jonathan Pfunde.
Authorities have opened a terror probe.
Prosecutors said the man, who was not known for terrorist activities, had twice shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, which occurred at around 8.15pm local time just outside the city’s central pedestrian zone while the soldiers were on patrol.
The case passed from local to federal prosecutors, who typically handle terrorist cases. A spokeswoman for the prosecution service said they were treating the case as one of attempted terrorist murder.
Brussels mayor Philip Close said the alert status, already just one off the maximum level, had not been increased.
“Initial indications are ... that it is an isolated attack, a single person,” Close told reporters beside a street blocked by police.
A man who lives near where the incident took place on Boulevard Emile Jacquemain said he saw the attacker lying in the street in the aftermath.
“I live right in front of the station. It was already blocked by police at the scene and there was a man lying on the ground. The police said he had been shot by soldiers,” said Thomas da Silva Rosa, a public affairs consultant. “He was lying on the ground, appeared dead.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted that “all our support is with our soldiers. Our security services remain on alert. We are following the situation closely.”
“With the identity that we currently have, it is a 30-year-old man who is not known for terrorist activities,” a spokeswoman for the prosecution service said.
In addition to regular police, Brussels streets are being patrolled by soldiers due to a heightened security threat level in the wake of militant attacks in Paris and the Belgian capital in 2015 and 2016.
In June, troops shot dead a suspected suicide bomber in Brussels’ central train station but there were no other casualties, in what authorities treated as a terrorist incident.
Additional reporting by Associated Press