A man shot dead two police officers and a passer-by in the Belgian city of Liège on Tuesday in what prosectors are treating as a terrorist attack.
The attacker, named as 31-year-old Belgian national Benjamin Herman who was released from prison yesterday, was shot dead in a gunbattle at a school.
His motive was to target the police, the city’s police chief has said.
At about 10.30am local time, the man approached the two female officers from behind with a knife, taking one of their guns and shooting them both dead, the local public prosecutor told a news conference on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Philippe Dulieu said that after attacking the two officers, the man walked down the street and shot dead a 22-year-old man who was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car.
He then went into a high school, taking a woman hostage and triggering a major intervention by armed police.
A gunbattle broke out and the attacker was later killed. Two other police officers were injured.
Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts are with the victims of the “cowardly attack” in Liege and the UK “stands resolute with our Belgian allies against terror”.
Local media in Belgium have named the assailant Herman, who was serving time for drug offences and classified as “unstable”, according to RTBF.
The broadcaster said investigators were looking into whether he converted to Islam and had been radicalised in jail.
La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source as saying the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar”.
Images on social media appeared to showed people running to safety on Liege’s central boulevard d’Avroy, with shots and sirens being heard in the background.
One video showed two police officers in body armour moving into position.
Liège is an industrial city close to the German border in the French-speaking Wallonia region.
The city was also the scene of a shooting in 2011, when a gunman killed four people and wounded more than 100 before turning the gun on himself.
Belgium has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.