A gunman killed two police officers and a passer-by on Tuesday before being shot dead in the centre of the Belgian city of Liege, public broadcaster RTBF said on its website and authorities said terrorism could not be ruled out as a motive.
The knife-wielding man stabbed two police officers Tuesday in the Belgian city of Liege, stole their weapons and shot them and a bystander dead in an attack that prosecutors fear could be terror-related.
La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source as saying the gunman shouted Allahu Akbar -- God is greatest in Arabic -- and RTBF said investigators believed the attacker may well have had a terrorist motive.
The man had taken a woman hostage at some point in the attack, the newspaper said.
- It's Not Islam That Drives Young Europeans to Jihad, France's Top Terrorism Expert Explains
- London Gave Shelter to Radical Islam and Now It's Paying the Price, French Terrorism Expert Says
- France Suffered Its 20th Islamist Attack Since 2014. Experts Explain How Italy Stayed Terror-free
The national anti-terrorist crisis centre, which Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Twitter was monitoring the situation, said terrorism could not be excluded as a motive though it was also looking into other possible reasons.
"It (terrorism) is one of the questions on the table, but for the moment all scenarios are open," a spokesman for the crisis centre said.
The attacker was an inmate who had been granted a few hours release Monday but failed to return to prison, officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear why he was imprisoned, but media reports say that he’s a known drug offender.
Two other police officers had been injured, Belga news agency said. A spokeswoman for the Liege public prosecutors office confirmed that two police officers had been shot dead and the gunman "neutralised" but could not confirm other details.
Images on social media showed people scurrying for safety on Liege's central boulevard d'Avroy with shots and sirens being heard in the background.
Liege, an industrial city close to the German border in a French-speaking region, was the scene of a shooting in 2011, when a gunman killed four people and wounded more than 100 others before turning the gun on himself.
Belgium has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.