A machete-wielding man shouted “Allahu Akbar” and attacked two female Belgian police officers on Saturday afternoon during a street rampage in the industrial Belgian city of Charleroi, about 40 miles south of Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.
The man wounded the two police officers outside the city’s police headquarters before he was shot dead by a third police officer at the scene, according to the Guardian.
“[A female officer] was rushed to hospital and is in a particularly bad way,” an official said, according to the Daily Mail. “A third officer shot the attacker, and he in turn was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.”
Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, condemned the attack in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday evening. He said the attack was likely an act of terrorism, the Associated Press reports.
Prime Minister Charles Michel was holidaying in the south of France, but retuned immediately to Brussels for a meeting with the country’s National Security Council, scheduled for Sunday.
“I condemn the attack in Charleroi with force,” the prime minister’s statement said. “Thoughts are with the victims, their relatives and the police. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
“Initial indications very clearly point towards terrorism,” he told the Belgian TV channel RTL, according to Reuters.
The attacker, armed with a machete, wounded the two female officers at a checkpoint outside the police headquarters in Charleroi. The two female officers survived the attack, but one suffered injuries to the face and was rushed to the hospital.
Charleroi police spokesperson David Quinaux, told reporters that the attacker was carrying a machete in a bag as he approached the security checkpoint that provided the police station an additional layer of security. According to Charleroi’s mayor, Paul Magnette, the attacker had apparently intended to enter the police station but was stopped at the checkpoint where he carried out the attack.
Armed Charleroi Police officers who were guarding the station converged around the wooden hut checkpoint. They also surrounded the police station premises immediately after the attacker was shot dead.
“Two police officers injured by machete in front of police [station] by someone shouting Allah Akbar. Individual was shot,” Charleroi police said in a brief official statement on Twitter.
Belgian authorities said investigations were on-going to determine whether the attack was the action of a lone wolf or whether he had links with international jihadi terrorists.
“We don’t know if this is the action of a lone wolf,” the Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTL.
Belgian authorities were reportedly considering beefing up security around police facilities following the attack which came at a time that Belgium was still on high alert, with intensified police patrols in the wake of the deadly March suicide bombings in Brussels.
The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The name of Charleroi featured in the November terrorist attack in Paris in which about 130 people were killed, as the place where the attackers allegedly obtained firearms and explosives. The city has the reputation of a center for armed gangs and weapons.
The latest incident comes after a series of ISIS-inspired terror attacks in July. ISIS-linked terrorists killed a French priest in late July at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, the Guardian reported.
A suicide bombing was carried out by a 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker in Ansbach, southern Germany, outside a concert venue, injuring 15 people.
A Syrian refugee also killed a woman and injured two in a machete attack in Reutlingen, Germany.
ISIS had called for attacks across Europe, especially against Belgium, France, and the U.K., in retaliation for the bombing attacks against ISIS-held areas in Syria and Iraq.
[Photo by Virginia Mayo/AP]