Brussels on high alert after two policemen stabbed

Man identified by police as ‘Hicham D’ arrested after being shot in the leg by officer

Police and army personnel stand guard during a bomb alert outside the Brussels North train station. Photograph: Thierry Roge/AFP/Getty Images

Police and army personnel stand guard during a bomb alert outside the Brussels North train station. Photograph: Thierry Roge/AFP/Getty Images

 

Brussels was on high alert yesterday after two policemen were attacked by a man in the north of the Belgian capital and a number of locations across the city were evacuated due to possible bomb threats.

Police said they were investigating a “possible terrorist attack” after a 43-year-old Belgian national stabbed two policemen in the Schaerbeek area of the city yesterday.

The man, who was identified by Belgian police as Hicham D, was arrested at the scene after he was shot in the leg by a third police officer.  

Yesterday evening Charleroi airport, located 50km south of Brussels, was evacuated, as well as the main train station in the town of Charleroi, on the back of two unspecified bomb threats. Ryanair operates a number of flights to and from Charleroi airport.

False bomb alert

Police said the two policemen stabbed by the assailant were not in a serious condition. Local media reported that one of the victims had been stabbed in the neck with a knife, the other in the stomach. There were unconfirmed reports the assailant may have been a former soldier.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that they had searched one house in Brussels but had not found any firearms or explosives. However they confirmed they were investigating the possibility of a terrorist attack.

Potential attack

Belgium remains on high alert more than six months after blasts at Brussels airport and a city centre metro station killed 32 people.  

The alert level in the capital remains at level three of a four-point scale since the March attacks.

There has been a visible presence of armed soldiers patrolling train stations and streets around Brussels city centre in recent days.

Belgium’s police and security services were strongly criticised in the wake of the terrorist attacks following revelations that some of the assailants were known to police.

Several of the attackers involved in the Paris terrorist attacks of November last year, including Abdelhamid Abouud the mastermind of the attack, lived in Brussels.  

Salah Abdeslam, one of the only surviving suspects in the Paris attacks, was arrested in Brussels on March 17th this year.