Two police officers were attacked and stabbed in a suspected terror attack in the Brussels suburb of Schaarbeek at lunchtime Wednesday, as one of the city’s main rail stations was closed by a bomb threat.
The two events took place near simultaneously in the Belgian capital this afternoon. The Brussels Nord station was evacuated by police and army troops with armored personnel carriers stationed outside as the bomb squad searched the location for explosives.
The city’s main north-south rail line was temporarily closed, with the station re-opening and trains resuming by 3pm local time.
Meanwhile, in the Islamist terror-linked neighborhood of Schaarbeek two plainclothes police officers were injured after being attacked by a knife-wielding man. Flanders Newsreports the officers received wounds to the neck and stomach, and one of them is in serious condition. Although the attacker, who was described by an eye witness as being “strongly built and wearing a sweatshirt with a hood”, attempted to flee the scene he was shot in the leg and incapacitated by police.
While Brussels police initially said the motivation for the double stabbing was unclear, the Federal prosecutor has now said they believe it was a terror attack. The assailant has been named in Belgian newspaper De Standaard as ‘Hicham D’ — an Arabic forename meaning he who is generous — a Belgian citizen born in 1973.
The citizen is a former member of Belgium’s armed forces and is known to the security services. He is reported to have had contact with returned Jihadists fighters from Syria.
The Schaarbeek district has frequently appeared in headlines for the area’s links to Muslim terrorism. Those involved in the March Brussels airport and railway station bombings were connected with a suspected terrorist bomb factory in the suburb, and the local mayor even went as far as banning as Muslim soup kitchen because he feared the volunteers were inciting vulnerable youths receiving their charity to fight in Syria.
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