DAESH claims responsibility for Belgium machete attack

33-year-old Algerian man, K.B., identified as being behind a machete attack on two police women in Belgium on Saturday.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Police stand as they secure the area around a police building in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi following a machete attack on August 6, 2016. Image: AFP.

Updated Aug 9, 2016

DAESH claimed responsibility on Sunday for a machete attack in Belgium that left two female police officers seriously wounded, the terrorist group’s Amaq news agency said on Twitter.

The agency claimed Saturday's attack was perpetrated by one of the group’s “soldiers” in response to strikes by the US-led coalition fighting against DAESH in Iraq and Syria.

The assailant, who was fatally shot during the attack, was identified on Sunday by the authorities as a 33-year-old Algerian man, K.B., who had been living in Belgium illegally since 2012.

The attacker was carrying a rucksack but no explosives or other weapons were found on him. 

The attack began just before 4 pm local time, when an individual approached a checkpoint in front of the police headquarters where the two officers were posted, according to the accounts of police and prosecutors. He then suddenly took a machete out of a sports bag he was carrying and started striking aggressively toward their heads. A third police officer who was close by shot the attacker dead.

Authorities didn’t reveal any indications of accomplices or large-scale planning behind the attack, which left one of the officers with serious injuries to her face and neck. Authorities have said she is now in a stable condition, and that the other officer was only lightly injured.

This picture taken on August 6, 2016 shows a blanket on the ground in the area around a police building after a man wounded two policewomen with a machete in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi. Image: Reuters.

"There are indications that the attack may have been inspired by a terrorist motive," the prosecutors said in a statement, adding that the attacker was "known to police for criminal acts, not for terrorism."

Following the attack, prosecutors searched two houses in Charleroi but no details were provided.

A government official said authorities had twice issued a deportation order for K.B. but that because Belgium has no agreement with Algeria allowing people to be forcibly sent back, he was able to stay.

Early Sunday, Belgian police also arrested another man with a machete in the French-speaking eastern city of Liege, broadcaster VRT reported.

Liege police had reportedly cordoned off an area before detaining the man. The report said that the man did not use the machete and was not previously known to the police.  

Increased security measures

Prime Minister Charles Michel told a press conference on Sunday that Belgium is increasing security at police stations after Saturday's attack.

Michel said federal prosecutors had opened a probe into “attempted terrorist murders,” assigning an investigative judge specialised in terrorism cases.

“The terrorist track is the possibility which is under analysis at this point,” Michel said, adding that at this early stage it was important to be “extremely prudent” in making any conclusions.

DAESH terrorists killed 32 people in suicide blasts at Brussels airport and a metro station in March. Many of those who were involved in carrying out the attacks in Paris in November, which killed 130 people, were also based in Belgium.

The Belgian capital Brussels - home to European Union institutions and the headquarters of NATO - are currently on a security alert level of three out of a maximum four, signalling a "possible and probable" threat.

TRTWorld and agencies