Friday 15 December 2017

Two policemen stabbed in Brussels 'jihadism hotbed'

Soldiers stand guard during a bomb alert at the Gare du Nord train station in Brussels Picture: AFP/Getty
Soldiers stand guard during a bomb alert at the Gare du Nord train station in Brussels Picture: AFP/Getty

Henry Samuel

A knife-wielding assailant stabbed two policemen in a Brussels district known as a hotbed of jihadism yesterday as one of the Belgian capital's main train stations was briefly closed due to a bomb scare.

Police then shot the suspect in the leg and arrested the unnamed individual.

The assailant lunged for the officers in a busy main road in Schaerbeek, the neighbourhood of Brussels where the terrorists behind the airport and metro attacks of March 22 had set up their bomb-making factory.

While the assailant said nothing during the attack, the Brussels federal prosecutor's office told 'La Libre Belgique' that it had "reason to believe this was a terrorist attack" without providing further details.

According to Belgian media, the knife attack took place during an identity check. The prosecutor's office confirmed that the man stabbed one of the police officers in the stomach and the other in the neck.

Neither was seriously hurt.

According to Belgian media, after the attack, the suspect tried to flee the scene but was spotted by another police patrol, who opened fire to "neutralise" the man.

"He was wounded by a gun shot to the leg," said the prosecutor's office.

He "broke the nose" of one of the policemen in the struggle, according to 'Libre Belgique'.

The assault came hours after the Brussels Gare du Nord train station was evacuated following a bomb scare sparked by an anonymous phone call.

The station was re-opened at around 3pm local time yesterday.

Yesterday's knife attack came weeks after two other police officers were wounded in a machete attack in Charleroi by a man shouting "Alahu Akbar" before he was killed by security forces.

On September 7, in nearby Molenbeek, also considered a hotbed of Islamism, two policemen were lightly injured by a man of North African origin who tried to stab them.

However, prosecutors said he had no proven link to Islamists.

Irish Independent

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