Officials in Brussels said Friday the suspect in a stabbing attack on two police officers Thursday — killing one, wounding the other — had been on a terrorism watch list.
Prosecutors’ spokesperson Eric van der Sypt told a news conference the two officers were attacked in their squad car as they sat at a red light on the northside of Brussels. Van der Sypt said the suspect shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” as he attacked.
The officer driving the car was stabbed in the neck and died of his injuries after being taken the hospital. The officer in the passenger seat was stabbed in the arm but was able to call for help on the radio. Another police officer who responded to the call, shot and wounded the suspect, when he arrived.
Van der Sypt said the 23-year-old suspect was a Belgian national on the list of radicalized Muslims held by the national security agency OCAD/OCAM. The spokesperson said the suspect will be questioned once he has recovered.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the suspect had gone to a Brussels police station earlier Thursday and appeared to be in what they described as a “mentally disturbed” state and asked for help. They said he was taken to a psychiatric hospital for examination which he left a short time later.
Responding to the attack from his Twitter account, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo wrote, “Our police officers risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of our citizens. Today’s drama demonstrates this once again. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased officer.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.