November 20, 2018 / 7:35 AM / 21 days ago

Policeman stabbed in Brussels, motive unclear

Police keep watch outside the police headquarters after a knife attack on a police officer, according to local media reports, in Brussels, Belgium November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian prosecutors are investigating whether a knife attack on a policeman in central Brussels on Tuesday was inspired by Islamist radicalism after witnesses said the assailant shouted “Allahu akbar”.

The attacker stabbed the officer outside the city’s main police station at around 5.30 a.m. (0430 GMT), a police spokeswoman said. He was then shot and wounded by another officer, she added.

“We have not yet been able to establish the motive,” a spokeswoman for Brussels prosecutors was cited by the Belgian public broadcaster RTBF as saying. “Witnesses heard him shout ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest).”

The police officer and his attacker were taken to hospital, but neither sustained life-threatening injuries.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the attacker was not known to police, describing the incident on Twitter as “another cowardly act against our police officers”.

Belgium, home to European Union institutions and NATO, has been on alert since 2016 when suicide bombers killed 32 people at Brussels airport and on the city’s metro, although the national threat level was reduced in January to two from three on a four-point scale.

The attack came during a two-day visit to Belgium by French President Emmanuel Macron, which included talks on improving security co-operation between the two countries.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Alissa de Carbonnel,; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond

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