Belgium shooting: Gunman had recently been let out on day-release from local prison

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 29, 2018, 06:24 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

A gunman on Tuesday fired shots in eastern Belgium's city of Liege killing two police officers and one civilian as a terrorist incident before being shot, the local public prosecutor told a news conference.

As per UK based reports, the police identified the gunman as Benjamin Herman, 36, from Rochefort, a city close to Liege. He had been involved in criminal activities such as robbery, assault, and drug-dealing and was well-known to the police. 

The 36-year-old petty criminal had been let out on day-release from a local prison on Monday. Police said investigators were looking into whether he converted to Islam and had been radicalised in jail, Reuters reported.

However, the government had not listed Herman as a potential terrorist, according to local media, but had been in contact with radicalised prisoners during his multiple times in jail.

The prosecutor said the man attacked the two officers from behind with a knife, took one of their guns and shot them both dead.

The attacker then shot dead a 22-year-old man in a nearby vehicle, before taking refuge in a school where he was killed in a subsequent gunfight during which several other policemen were wounded.

The gunman had also taken a female cleaner hostage at the school before being killed by police. 

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 reason behind the shooting is not clear yet, investigations are still on. 

Belgian police and military have been on alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and subway system in 2016.