Police Probe Deadly Rampage in Belgian City

Police Probe Deadly Rampage in Belgian CityPolice Probe Deadly Rampage in Belgian City

Belgian police were on Wednesday investigating how a gunman known for contacts with militant groups came to launch a brazen suspected terror attack, shooting dead two female officers with their own weapons before killing a bystander.

The late morning bloodshed on Tuesday shocked the eastern industrial city of Liege when the attacker armed with a knife repeatedly stabbed the two policewomen before using their own firearms to kill them, AFP reported.

Police were scrambling to unpick the motives of the attacker identified as Benjamin Herman, a 36-year-old with a decade spent in and out of prison for acts of violence and petty crimes, who was out of jail on leave when he attacked.

Federal prosecutors said they had launched a terror investigation into the incident, though Interior Minister Jan Jambon urged caution over any extremist angle.

  Brutal Hammer Murder

Special attention is being given to the gruesome murder of an alleged heroin dealer linked to Herman who was bludgeoned to death with a hammer late Monday near the Luxembourg border.

Investigators on Tuesday found the hammer in Herman’s car and Jambon said police believed the Liege attacker carried out the killing just hours after getting temporary release from prison.

As well as the two policewomen, the attacker also shot dead a 22-year-old student sitting in a parked car in central Liege. He then took a female cleaner hostage in the nearby Leonie de Waha school, a public institution with several hundred students aged from two to 18.

The two murdered police officers were identified as Lucile Garcia, 53, who had recently become a grandmother, and Soraya Belkacemi, 45, a mother to 13-year-old twins.

Debate in Belgium was swirling on the country’s prison policy with reports that Herman had repeatedly blown the conditions of his temporary leave from jail ahead of his full release set for 2020.

Belgium has been on alert since authorities in January 2015 smashed a terror cell in the town of Verviers near Liege that was planning an attack on police.


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