Islamic State claims deadly attack on Belgium police

Islamic State claims deadly attack on Belgium police

Benjamin Herman fatally shot two policewomen and a bystander in Liege, is suspected of killing a fourth person

A woman leaves flowers at the scene of a shooting in Liege, Belgium, May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
A woman leaves flowers at the scene of a shooting in Liege, Belgium, May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Islamic State terror group on Wednesday claimed one of its “soldiers” killed two policewomen and a student in the Belgian city of Liege this week, the jihadist’s Amaq propaganda agency said.

“The author of the attack on the city of Liege in Belgium is a soldier of the Islamic State,” IS said in a statement published on Amaq’s Telegram account a day after the attack.

The terror group said “he led the attack in response to calls to target the countries of the US-led international coalition,” which is fighting the jihadist group mainly in Syria.

The attacker identified as Benjamin Herman repeatedly stabbed two policewomen in Liege on Tuesday before using their own firearms to kill them, according to investigators in Belgium.

The 31-year-old also shot dead a student sitting in a parked car in the center of the industrial city.

In this undated handout provided by the Liege Police Department on May 30, 2018, Liege police officers Soraya Belkacemi, left, and Lucille Garcia, right, are seen in their uniforms. (Liege Police Department via AP)

Belgian police have identified Herman as a drifter who spent a decade in and out of prison for acts of violence and petty crimes.

Prosecutors said his method of attack was a known “modus operandi” of IS, which claimed deadly attacks in Brussels in 2016.

Amateur footage obtained by AFP showed the gunman shouting “Allahu akbar” (Arabic for “God is greatest”) as he walked through the streets during the rampage.

Herman is also suspected in the killing of a fourth person on the eve of his rampage, federal prosecutors’ spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a press conference on Wednesday morning.

“The facts are qualified as terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder,” Van Der Sypt said, referring also to the shootings that wounded four other police officers.

Belgian Federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt speaks during a press conference on May 29’s shooting in Liege, in Brussels, on May 30, 2018. (AFP/Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq)

The killer “is also suspected of a manslaughter in On, Marche-en-Famenne,” in southern Belgium, he added.

Earlier Wednesday, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the person Herman killed in On was a former inmate who did prison time with Herman. Herman is alleged to have killed the man on Monday evening by hitting him over the head with a blunt object.

“The exact circumstances of this offense are the subject of a separate investigation,” Van Der Sypt said.

Belgium remains on high alert after a string of attacks, including twin suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016 claimed by the Islamic State group.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that the gunman was on a special police watchlist because of his contacts with radical Islamists.

The source said Herman had past convictions for robbery, violence, and drug dealing.

He was reported by Belgian broadcaster RTBF to have been released from prison on Monday.

“He is suspected of having been radicalized [in prison]… He has been reported or presumed to be belonging to the entourage of an Islamist recruiter,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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