Belgium launches twin probes into Brussels stab attack

Belgian prosecutors said they launched twin investigation after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked soldiers in Brussels. The assault is being treated as an act of terrorist.

The assailant attacked Belgian soldiers with a knife in central Brussels on Friday night, according to the Belgian authorities. The man shouted “Allahu Akbar” (‘God is great’ in Arabic) twice while carrying out the attack, according to Esther Natus, spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office.

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This screengrab shows police officials and a soldier looking at a man on the pavement in the city centre of Brussels on August 25, 2017, where a man is alleged to have attacked soldiers with a knife and was shot. © AFP

Soldiers fatally shot the attacker following a close encounter. “One of the soldiers opened fire and hit the man twice. The man later died in the hospital as a result of his injuries,” Natus added.

Later on Saturday, prosecutors announced that the first investigation will look at the incident itself, and the second inquiry will see if the soldier who shot the attacker acted appropriately, Reuters reports.

An autopsy was planned for Saturday, the prosecution service said in a statement, adding that prosecutors would make the final decision based on the results and a report by a ballistics expert.

According to the authorities, the 30-year-old man, identified as a Somali citizen, came to Belgium in 2004. Belgian Migration Minister Theo Francken said the man had been granted asylum in 2009 and obtained citizenship in 2015.

The man was not known to have any links to Islamist militancy, but had committed an act of assault and battery in February this year, prosecutors say.

The attack in central Brussels came shortly before two British police officers were attacked outside Buckingham Palace in London.

Police later said the man, in his mid-twenties, was “arrested by police after they spotted a weapon inside his car. The quick and brave actions of both officers meant that the suspect was detained very quickly,” Detective Superintendent Guy Collings said on Friday. 

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