Attacker shouting 'Allahu akbar' stabs Belgian policeman

Police keep watch outside the police headquarters after a policeman was stabbed in Brussels.
Police keep watch outside the police headquarters after a policeman was stabbed in Brussels.PHOTO: REUTERS
Police ribbons are pictured at the police station in Brussels, after a man attacked police officers with a knife.
Police ribbons are pictured at the police station in Brussels, after a man attacked police officers with a knife.PHOTO: AFP
Police investigators work outside the police headquarters after a policeman was stabbed in Brussels.
Police investigators work outside the police headquarters after a policeman was stabbed in Brussels.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - An attacker shouting "Allahu akbar" stabbed a Belgian policeman several times in the neck in central Brussels on Tuesday (Nov 20), prosecutors said.

The assailant, who wielded two kitchen knives during the incident outside the city's main police station, was then shot and wounded by two police officers, they said in a statement.

The man is under arrest and in critical condition in hospital.

The policeman is also in hospital but did not suffer life-threatening injuries in the attack at around 5.30am (12 midnight on Wednesday, Singapore time).

"We have not yet establish the subject's motives," the city prosecutors said.

"Several witnesses heard him shout 'Allahu akbar' (God is greatest). The investigation will establish whether this is a terrorist act."

The assailant had a criminal record of stealing and violence. He was jailed in 2014 for attempted murder and for carrying an illegal weapon but was released last month.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon described the incident on Twitter as "another cowardly act against our police officers".

Belgium, home to European Union institutions and Nato, has been on alert since 2016 when suicide bombers killed 32 people at Brussels airport and on the city's metro, although the national threat level was reduced in January to two from three on a four-point scale.

The attack came during a two-day visit to Belgium by French President Emmanuel Macron, which included talks on improving security co-operation between the two countries.