This is the moment Belgian special forces took down a gunman who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he shot and killed two policewomen and a 22-year-old trainee teacher.

After carrying out three brutal murders this morning, the attacker took a female cleaner hostage in a nearby high school.

The footage shows him running out of the school with two guns blazing before he was shot dead in the street. Several officers were injured in the gun battle.

The man, who is understood to have been on a day release from a nearby prison, had approached the female officers at around 10.30am, slashed their throats and stabbed them several times from behind, before disarming them.

He has been named as 36-year-old Benjamin Herman. His victims have been named as police officers Lucile Garcia, 45, and Soraya Belkacemi, 53, and 22-year-old Cyril Vangriecken, who was shot dead sitting in a parked car with his mother.

Tonight Liège police paid tribute to their two fallen colleagues on Facebook, calling them ‘wonderful’ mothers and officers.

A lawmaker revealed Belgian national Herman was on an anti-terror police watchlist after being radicalised in jail. He appeared indirectly in security reports on radicalised people and was a multiple repeat offender incarcerated since 2003 who was on day release when he attacked.

Soraya Belkacemi, left, and Lucile Garcia, right, were hailed as wonderful mothers and police officers by their colleagues after being killed in today’s attack 

A white car is towed away away from the scene of the shooting today in Belgium as a police officer stands at the scene in Liege 

A white car is towed away away from the scene of the shooting today in Belgium as a police officer stands at the scene in Liege 

Mr Vangriecken’s father told French-based BFM TV his son thought only of his studies, adding: ‘My son was a perfect child. When I say perfect, it was perfect.’ 

He expressed anger that the killer was on day release when he committed the attack. 

‘How many times must it happen that there are people, young people who do nothing, get killed by people who are radicalized in prison?’ he said. 

Four other officers were wounded in the attack, one of them seriously with a severed femoral artery.

A white car is taken by a tow truck at the scene of a shooting at the boulevard d'Avroy in Liege ater a gunman shot dead three people, two of them policemen 

A white car is taken by a tow truck at the scene of a shooting at the boulevard d’Avroy in Liege ater a gunman shot dead three people, two of them policemen 

This is the moment Belgian special forces shoots and kills the  suspected terrorist in Liege, Belgium on Tuesday

This is the moment Belgian special forces shoots and kills the suspected terrorist in Liege, Belgium on Tuesday

Victims: The two female police officers were stabbed and then shot dead with their own weapons in the attack on Tuesday

Victims: The two female police officers were stabbed and then shot dead with their own weapons in the attack on Tuesday

Federal prosecutors said they had launched a terror investigation into the incident, which comes as Belgium remains on high alert after a string of attacks including twin suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016 claimed by the Islamic State group.

The police chief in Liege, Christian Beaupere, has since said the motive of the attacker was to target the police, although it is not clear how police had come to this conclusion. 

According to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Herman was a violent drug dealer with additional convictions for both robbery and assault, who had been let out on day-release from a local prison on Monday.

RTBF claimed investigators are looking into whether he had converted to Islam, with sources within the prison service saying he had been close to radicalised inmates and had wanted to ‘carry out attacks when released’.

The national crisis centre, on high alert since Islamic State attacks said it had not raised its alert level – an indication the man was acting alone and so follow-up attacks are not expected. A source close to the investigation telling AFP that he was on a watchlist earlier today.

‘He is suspected of having been radicalised (in prison)… He has been reported or presumed to be belonging to the entourage of an Islamist recruiter,’ the source said on condition of anonymity. 

Paris-Match magazine revealed a Koran and prayer rug were found during a search of his cell and tonight a Belgian lawmaker said the attacker was on an anti-terrorist police watchlist after being radicalised in jail.

Earlier today reports claimed Herman had been granted several hours of leave from prison to seek work. But Justice Minister Koen Geens has revealed Herman was on two-day leave from prison as of Monday. Geens described him as a multiple repeat offender who had been incarcerated since 2003. 

He told the National Security Council the perpetrator was was on his 14th two-day release break after a successful 13.

He said it was difficult to predict the violence because of previous leaves that had gone well. The bout of two-day breaks follow 11 one-day release permits, according to news site DH. 

Murdered: Police officer Lucile Garcia has been named as one of the two policewomen killed in Liege, Belgium today

Murdered: Police officer Lucile Garcia has been named as one of the two policewomen killed in Liege, Belgium today

Killed: The civilian shot dead by the attacker has been named as Cyril Vangriecken, 22, from the nearby town of Vottem

Down: Police special forces are seen next to the body of what is believed to be the attacker, outside the high school

Down: Police special forces are seen next to the body of what is believed to be the attacker, outside the high school

Attacker: This image published by Belgian news website HLN allegedly shows the male attacker brandishing two firearms which he reportedly stole from the policewomen he gunned down in Liege, Belgium

Attacker: This image published by Belgian news website HLN allegedly shows the male attacker brandishing two firearms which he reportedly stole from the policewomen he gunned down in Liege, Belgium

Murdered: A graphic video uploaded on social media shows the two police officers shot down in the street on Tuesday in what is now considered a terror attack

Murdered: A graphic video uploaded on social media shows the two police officers shot down in the street on Tuesday in what is now considered a terror attack

Herman, a Belgian national, had been meant to be heading to his home town of Rochefort, 40 miles from Liege, despite prison officers saying he was still ‘extremely violent’.  

Following his release on Monday afternoon, he is thought to have robbed a jewellery shop in his home town of Rochefort. 

Herman is also currently the prime suspect for the murder of a drug dealer in the town of Marche-en-Famenne, in Luxemburg, which was committed on Monday night, just a few hours later.

Today, he is alleged to have ‘hunted down’ police officers Garcia and Belkacemi while they were on routine road traffic duties, ‘checking parking meters’ in the town of Liege. Garcia had recently become a grandmother and  was newly married to a local police chief, and Belkacemi was a mother of 13-year-old twins. 

Initial reports suggested he shot them after being stopped for a document check, however prosecutors now say he crept up behind them, cut their throats with a ‘box cutter’ knife, and stabbed them numerous times.

Herman then took the officers’ side arms and shot them both in the head, making sure they were dead.

Local news website DHnet.be reported that he had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he fired on on Liege’s central Boulevard d’Avroy, citing police sources, but this has not yet been confirmed by officials. 

Videos posted on social media showed people scurrying for safety on Liege’s central boulevard d’Avroy with shots and sirens being heard in the background.

One video show emergency services and police officers in body armour moving into position, another sees the two police officers shot dead in the street. 

Emotions: A male police officer is seen breaking down at the scene where two colleagues were shot by an attacker who had allegedly been released from prison the day before

Emotions: A male police officer is seen breaking down at the scene where two colleagues were shot by an attacker who had allegedly been released from prison the day before

Forensic police officers appear to be removing a red body bad from the scene in Liege this afternoon

Forensic police officers appear to be removing a red body bad from the scene in Liege this afternoon

Scene: A witness' photo show emergency services in central Liege after the unnamed man shot two police officers and a bystander, and then took a woman hostage inside a high school

Scene: A witness’ photo show emergency services in central Liege after the unnamed man shot two police officers and a bystander, and then took a woman hostage inside a high school

Several police and emergency vehicles block the view of a white tent set up to shield the scene of the shooting 

Several police and emergency vehicles block the view of a white tent set up to shield the scene of the shooting 

Investigating: Forensics experts are seen on the scene of a shooting in Liege

Investigating: Forensics experts are seen on the scene of a shooting in Liege

Terror: The gunman killed three people in the attack which is now considered by prosecutors to have been an act of terrorism

Terror: The gunman killed three people in the attack which is now considered by prosecutors to have been an act of terrorism

Shock: A man is seen crying on the street behind the police cordons as officers stand by him

Shock: A man is seen crying on the street behind the police cordons as officers stand by him

Hearses are parked near a police tent at the scene where a gunman shot dead two police officers and a bystander on the Boulevard d'Avroy in Liege

Hearses are parked near a police tent at the scene where a gunman shot dead two police officers and a bystander on the Boulevard d’Avroy in Liege

Potential terror: The man reportedly opened fire at around 10.30am local time, after allegedly attacking police officers

Potential terror: The man reportedly opened fire at around 10.30am local time, after allegedly attacking police officers

The Liège victims: 22-year-old man was shot dead as he sat next to his mother, one officer was newly married to a police chief and the other was mother of twins

The victims of the suspected terror attack in Belgium have been revealed as a 22-year-old trainee teacher killed in front of his mother, a newly married police officer and a mother of twins.

This afternoon the two police officers were named as Lucile Garcia, 45, from Herve in Belgium’s Verviers region, and her 53-year-old colleague Soraya Belkacemi.

Garcia had only married a month ago to a local police commissioner Patrick Hagelstein and had recently become a grandmother – something she was ‘very proud of’.

Murdered: Police officer Lucile Garcia has been named as one of the two policewomen killed in Liege, Belgium today

Herman shot Cyril Vangriecken, 22, at close range. He was a passenger in his mother's car at the time. Witnesses said she was sobbing and covered in blood after her son was targeted in their Ford Fiesta

Murdered: Police officer Lucile Garcia has been named as one of the two policewomen killed in Liege, Belgium today

Colleagues described her as a ‘fantastic woman’. She had been touched by tragedy ten years ago when a 21-year-old family member had lost his life in a road accident.

Belkacemi, a mother of 13-year-old twins, started her career with the police as an assistant agent but climbed the ranks of the police force after completing her exams. 

The third victim was named as Cyril Vangriecken, 22, from Vottem, near Liège, who was killed in front of his mother.

Mr Vangriecken was sat in the passenger seat next to her in their Ford Fiesta, when he was shot at close range. Witnesses said she was sobbing and covered in her son’s blood after the attack.

His Facebook profile revealed him to be popular young man, who was passionate about the game, petanque, a form of boule.  

HOW THE LIEGE ATTACK PLAYED OUT

  • At around 10:30 am (0830 GMT), a man followed two female police officers, stabbed them several times, then grabbed their firearms and shot both dead.
  • He then travelled on foot before opening fire on a 22-year-old man in the passenger seat of a parked car, killing him. 
  • The suspect then entered the Leonie de Waha high school in the French-speaking city where he took an employee hostage.
  • Police officers arrived on the scene, with the assailant opening fire on the officers, wounding several of them in the legs before they killed him.
  • The high school pupils were evacuated from the rear of the building and none was injured. 
  • The school is closed through Wednesday and students will be given psychological counselling.
  • The case has been classified as a suspected ‘terrorist offence’ and transferred to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, which investigates terror cases.
  • Officials have still to confirm media accounts that the assailant shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest in Arabic) several times before stabbing one of the police officers in the throat.
  • Unconfirmed reports have named the man as Benjamin Herman, 36, a career criminal described as ‘violent’ by fellow inmates 

Minutes later, anti-terrorist special forces police could be seen surrounding the area, which went into lock down.  

Philippe Dulieu, spokesman for the Liege prosecutor’s office, told reporters the man had come out firing from the high school, before he was ‘neutralised’.

‘Armed with a knife, the suspect followed and attacked two police officers, and used their own firearms to kill them,’ Mr Dulieu told a news conference.

‘He continued on foot, attacking a parked vehicle where he opened fire on a 22-year-old man in the passenger seat. The young man died.

‘He then continued and entered the Leonie de Waha school. He took a woman working there as hostage. Police intervened, he came out firing on the police officers, wounding a number of them, notably in the legs, before he was killed.’ 

All students in the school were successfully evacuated, and the female hostage released without being caused any harm.

Officials say they are now considering the attack on Tuesday morning to have been an act of terrorism.    

Catherine Collignon, a spokesman for Liege prosecutors, confirmed ‘four deaths in total’, with two other police officers seriously wounded.

She confirmed that ‘terrorism’ was currently considered the principal motivation for the attack by those leading the judicial enquiry.  

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Belgium’s Federal Crisis Centre was monitoring the situation.

‘Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrible act. We are in the process of establishing an overview of exactly what happened,’ Jambon wrote on Twitter. 

The crisis centre said a security cordon had been set up around the area and urged people to stay away.

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the ‘terrible’ suspected terror attack and expressed the ‘solidarity of the French people with the Belgian people’ after hosting an international peace conference on Libya. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May also expressed her sympathies in a tweet posted on Tuesday afternoon, saying: ‘My thoughts are with the victims of today’s cowardly attack in Belgium and their grieving families. The UK stands resolute with our Belgian allies against terror.’ 

Elite unit: Belgian Special Police are pictured at the scene of the alleged terror attack in Liege

Elite unit: Belgian Special Police are pictured at the scene of the alleged terror attack in Liege

Guns blazing: The attacker had come out of the high school while firing at police, and while he injured several other officers,  they soon shot him dead in the street

Guns blazing: The attacker had come out of the high school while firing at police, and while he injured several other officers,  they soon shot him dead in the street

Lockdown: Anti-terrorist special forces police could be seen surrounding the area within minutes of the shooting at 10.30am

Lockdown: Anti-terrorist special forces police could be seen surrounding the area within minutes of the shooting at 10.30am

Police officers are seen on the scene of a shooting in Liege, Belgium, in this picture posted on social media by a witness

Police officers are seen on the scene of a shooting in Liege, Belgium, in this picture posted on social media by a witness

Protection: A large white tent has been erected over the scene where two police officers and a witness were shot in the eastern Belgian city of Liege

Protection: A large white tent has been erected over the scene where two police officers and a witness were shot in the eastern Belgian city of Liege

Victims: The two female police officers were reportedly attacked from behind by the man 

Victims: The two female police officers were reportedly attacked from behind by the man 

Taken down: The kidnapper was 'neutralised' at 11am, effectively ending the siege

Taken down: The kidnapper was ‘neutralised’ at 11am, effectively ending the siege

Emergency: Bystanders, police and emergency staff stand in a street close to the high school where the attackers kidnapped a cleaner

Emergency: Bystanders, police and emergency staff stand in a street close to the high school where the attackers kidnapped a cleaner

Liege, an industrial city close to the German border in the French-speaking Wallonia region, was also the scene of a shooting in 2011.

A gunman killed four people and wounded over 100 before turning the gun on himself.

Belgium has been on high alert since a Brussels-based ISIS terror cell was involved in attacks on Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people, and Brussels in 2016 in which 32 died.

The UK Foreign Office advises British citizens that ‘terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Belgium.’

The Foreign Office’s travel advice website adds that ‘attacks could happen anywhere, including on public transport and transport hubs and in other places visited by foreigners’.

Condolences: Liege police chief C. Beaupierre speak to Belgiums'  King Philippe, who arrived in Liege this afternoon

Condolences: Liege police chief C. Beaupierre speak to Belgiums’ King Philippe, who arrived in Liege this afternoon

Shooting: The unnamed attacker killed two police officer and a witness in the city in eastern Belgoum on Tuesday morning

Shooting: The unnamed attacker killed two police officer and a witness in the city in eastern Belgoum on Tuesday morning

Condolences: British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her sympathies in a tweet posted on Tuesday afternoon

Condolences: British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her sympathies in a tweet posted on Tuesday afternoon

A timeline of recent terror attacks in Belgium

There have been a number of high profile terrorist attacks across Belgium in recent years, all of which have been linked to Islamist extremism. 

On 24, May, 2014, Mehdi Nemmouche, a French national of Algerian origian opened fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, killing four people.

He was arrested in Marseille nearly a week later and was found to have had links to would-be ISIS Islamists in Syria

In January 2015, police smashed a terror cell in the town of Verviers, which had been planning an attack on law enforcement.

The Verviers cell had links to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the November 2015 ISIS attacks on Paris that killed 130 people. 

Two female victims are seen atfter  twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport, in Brussels Belgium, on 22 March, 2016

Two female victims are seen atfter  twin suicide blast at Zaventem Airport, in Brussels Belgium, on 22 March, 2016

On 22 March, 2016, Belgium was struck by co-ordinated ISIS suicide attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station which killed 32 people and injured more than 300.

On August 6, 2016, a machete-wielding man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) attacked two policewomen in the industrial town of Charleroi, before being shot dead. ISIS claimed the responsibility for the attack. 

On 5 October 2016, a 43-year-old army veteran with alleged links to ISIS fighters in Syria and a local Islamist party, attacks three police officers with a machete in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium.

On 20 June 2017, a small explosion takes place at Brussels Central station, carried out by a Moroccan national, who fails to cause any injury to any civilians, and is shot by security forces at the scene.

On 25 August 2017, two soldiers are wounded by a machete-wielding a 30-year-old male Somali immigrant, an attack which is later claimed by ISIS.





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