A knife attack in Brussels that left at least one police officer dead is “suspected to be linked to terrorism”, authorities said on Thursday.
“It is suspected to be related to terrorism.” It should naturally be confirmed by the investigation,” the spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor Eric Van Duize told CNN.
In the incident on Thursday evening, a police patrol was attacked by a person with a knife. “Other officers came as backup and are using their guns to shoot the attacker to control the person,” a spokesman for the Brussels North police force told CNN via email.
“The injured have been brought to the hospital. The first investigative work is underway,” added the spokesperson.
The attacker was shot in the leg, prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said.
According to Van Duijse, the attack took place around 7:30 p.m. local time on Aerschott Street in the Brussels borough of Schaerbeek.
Lawmakers sent their condolences to the slain policeman’s family following news of the attack.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre De Croix expressed his condolences, saying his thoughts were with the family and friends of the deceased officer.
“Our police officers risk life and limb every day to keep our society safe.” Unfortunately, it is once again visible today,” he wrote on Twitter.
Belgian Interior Minister Anneliese Verlinden described the incident as “a terrible drama and heartbreaking news”.
“My thoughts are first and foremost with the loved ones, members of the police precinct and the entire police organization,” she wrote on Twitter.
The mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, called it an “unbearable drama” in Brussels.
“We stand in solidarity with the police force. “The police protect us and must be protected,” he said.
European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola said she was “shocked” by the killing of the police officer in the line of duty.
“The Belgian police have worked so closely with (the European Parliament) over the years that this is personal for us. All our thoughts are with them, their loved ones and everyone in Belgium,” she wrote on Twitter.
Belgium has seen several terrorist attacks in the last decade.
In 2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for a knife attack on soldiers in Brussels. In the incident, the soldiers were slightly wounded, but one of them managed to shoot the attacker, who later died in the hospital.
In June of that year, a suspect was fatally shot at a transit station in Brussels after a failed bombing that authorities called a terrorist attack. In March 2016, coordinated attacks at Brussels airport and a metro station left 31 dead and more than 300 injured.