Liege, BELGIUM – A man who was on a two-day prison furlough murdered two police officer and a citizen, before wounding four more officers on Tuesday in an attack that is likely terror-related.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said the assailant, who stabbed two female police officers before taking their dutyweapons and using them to fatally shoot the two officers and a 22-year-old man, was released from prison on a two-day leave Monday, WNYW reported.
Justice Geens said the killer, 36-year-old Benjamin Herman, was a multiple repeat offender who had been incarcerated since 2003, according to WNYW.
Officera Soraya Belkacemi and Lucille Garcia were murdered by Herman, Liege Police Chief Christian Beaupere told reporters at a news conference, Sky News reported.
Officer Belkacemi was the mother of twins, Chief Beaupere said.
Another officer was seriously wounded with a severed femoral artery, WNYW reported. Three more officers had non-life threatening injuries.
After he stole the officers’ guns, Herman fatally shot Cyril Vangriecken, a passenger in a car parked in front of a high school, Sky News reported.
Then he took a cleaning woman hostage inside the school. That’s when more officers caught up with Herman.
“Liege police intervened. He came out firing at police, wounding a number of them, notably in the legs. He was shot dead,” Liege prosecutors’ spokesman Philippe Dulieu told reporters at the press conference.
Yves Stevens of Belgium’s federal crisis center said that security in Liege was under control, and that he saw no reason to raise the national terror threat level at this time, WNYW reported.
“There is absolutely no confirmation yet that the incident is terror-related,” Stevens said.
However, La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source who said the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Sky News reported.
Local media reported that the suspect had been radicalized in prison, and have reported Herman as belonging to the “entourage of an Islamist recruiter.”
The governor of Liege province, Herve Jamar, said nobody was hurt during the part of the incident that occurred inside the Leonie de Waha school, and that all of the students were safe.
“Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrible act. We are in the process of establishing an overview of exactly what happened,” Interior Minister Jan Jambon said, according to Sky News.