Belgian prosecutors on Thursday charged a suspect with attempted murder over the stabbing of two police officers in a “terrorist attack” a day earlier in Brussels.
The suspect in Wednesday’s attack, named as 43-year-old Hicham Diop, has been “charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context and participation in the activities of a terrorist group,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said. His brother, Aboubaker D, had also been taken into custody “in the framework of the terrorist attack against two police officers” in Brussels, it said. The brother was born in 1970 and both men have Belgian nationality, according to AFP.
“The investigating judge, specializing in terrorism, will decide tomorrow on the possible extension of his detention,” the statement added.
Police shot the attacker in the leg after he used a knife to attack the two officers, one female and one male, in the Schaerbeek area of the Belgian capital. He then broke the nose of a third officer. The first two officers, who suffered wounds to the stomach and neck, have been released from hospital, local mayor Bernard Clerfayt said, according to AFP. Media reports said the attacker was a former soldier who had served until 2009 and who had ties to jihadists who had gone to fight in Syria.
Broadcaster RTL quoted Hicham Diop as explaining the motive behind the attack as “revenge on the police” for a 2011 incident which he says saw a police vehicle run him over.His attempts to take legal action proved fruitless and left him “shocked,” he said, according to RTL.
The attack follows previous attacks in Belgium, and comes two months after two police women were wounded in Charleroi by a machete-wielding man who shouted “Allahu Akbar”. The August attack was claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.
Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck Brussels airport and a metro station near the European Union’s institutions on March 22, killing 32 people.