Funerals next week for Belgian policewomen killed by terrorist

Bernadette Hennart, the mother of killed policewoman Soraya Belkacemi kisses a rosary as she pays tribute to her daughter, on May 30, 2018.
Bernadette Hennart, the mother of killed policewoman Soraya Belkacemi kisses a rosary as she pays tribute to her daughter, on May 30, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The funerals of two murdered police women will be held next Tuesday (June 5) in Belgium's eastern city of Liege where a suspected terrorist killed them and a student, officials said.

Funeral ceremonies will be held at 10:00 am (0800 GMT) for Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi, who will be cremated shortly afterward among family and friends, city officials said.

Garcia, 54, had recently become a grandmother, while Soraya Belkacemi, 44, was a mother to 13-year-old twins.

Cyril Vangriecken, 22, shot dead in the passenger seat of a parked car, will be buried on Monday, city police spokeswoman Jadranka Lozina told AFP without elaborating.

His bowls club will organise a march in his honour on Sunday, Lozinka said.

The Islamic State group claimed one of its "soldiers" killed the three people, the jihadists' Amaq propaganda agency said.

ISIS 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.

 
 
 

Belgian investigators said the attacker identified as Benjamin Herman repeatedly stabbed the policewomen in Liege on Tuesday before using their own firearms to kill them.

The 31-year-old then shot dead a student sitting in a parked car in the centre of the industrial city, before entering a nearby school where he briefly took a female cleaner hostage.

In a separate investigation, police also suspect that Herman had killed a drug dealer just hours after getting temporary release from prison on Monday morning.

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 ISIS, 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.