At least three people have been killed in a shooting in the eastern Belgian city of Liege in what officials called a “terrorist incident”.
The dead in Tuesday’s attack in the centre of the city included two police officers and a passer-by.
Spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, Phillipe Dulieu, said the attacker approached the officers from behind carrying a knife and stabbed them several times.
“[The suspect] … took their weapons. He used the weapons on the officers who died,” Dulieu said, adding the attacker went on to shoot dead a 22-year-old man in a nearby vehicle.
“The event is classed as a terrorist incident,” he said.
The assailant is then believed to have taken a woman hostage before being shot dead by police.
Public broadcaster RTBF said the suspect was a 36-year-old petty criminal who had been let out on day-release from a local prison on Monday.
La Libre Belgique newspaper quoted a police source as saying the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar”, God is greatest in Arabic.
Videos posted on social media showed police cars rushing to the scene of the attack sirens blaring as people fled the scene.
Liege, an industrial city close to the German border in the French-speaking Wallonia region, 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 of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people, as well as a 2016 attack in Brussels in which 32 died.