UPDATE: 9:30 p.m. EDT — Belgian authorities revealed that the man who attacked two female police officers in the southern city of Charleroi on Saturday was a 33-year-old Algerian, Khaled Babbouri, local media reported. Babbouri had been in Belgium illegally since 2012 and had already been served a deportation order which could not be implemented.
Belgian news outlet Le Soir said he was not known to Belgian intelligence services but had been in the country’s courts for petty crime.
A machete-wielding man attacked two female police officers in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi on Saturday. The man, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) during the attack, was shot dead by police.
The attack happened outside the city’s police headquarters. Charleroi police spokesman David Quinaux said the man had a machete in a sports bag and took it out as he reached a security checkpoint outside the headquarters. One the two police officers who were attacked sustained several deep slashing cuts to her face, Quinaux said, adding that the second officer sustained minor injuries. Both the officers were out of danger.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said that the identity of the assailant or his motive was not immediately known but “initial indications very clearly point towards terrorism.”
Charleroi was used as a base by some terrorists involved in the November 2015 Paris attacks — that killed 130 people —and suicide bombings at Brussels airport in March this year — which claimed 32 lives.
Since the Paris attacks, Belgium has been on Level 3 terror alert, the second-highest level.
Saturday’s attack follows several attacks in Europe in the last month. Most of those attacks took place in France and Germany and have been claimed by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
On Bastille Day — a commemoration of the beginning of the French Revolution, celebrated on July 14 — a Tunisian-born French national mowed down dozens of people with a truck in the southern French seaside city of Nice during celebrations. The attack claimed 84 lives and injured more than 200 people. ISIS claimed responsibility, calling the attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, one of the “soldiers of Islam.” Bouhlel was shot dead by local police.