Belgian of Somali origin staged Brussels knife attack: prosecutors

Belgian of Somali origin staged Brussels knife attack: prosecutors

Brussels (AFP) - The man armed with a knife who stabbed a soldier in Brussels before being shot dead was a Belgian of Somali origin, prosecutors said Saturday.

While he had no previous connection with terror before Friday night's attack, he did have an assault charge on his record from February this year, a statement said.

Overnight, police raided his home in Bruges, northwest Belgium, with federal prosecutors opening an investigation into "attempted terrorist murder", it said.

An investigating magistrate who specialises in terrorism offences has been assigned to the case.

During the attack near the Grand Place in central Brussels at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), the man rushed at the soldiers from behind and struck them with a knife shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest).

One soldier then opened fire.

"The man was hit and died shortly afterwards in hospital from his wounds," it said. As well as the knife, police found a replica gun and two copies of the Koran on him.

The attacker was born in 1987 and arrived in Belgium in 2004. He was granted Belgian nationality in 2015, it said.

The attack took place in an area of the capital which is regularly patrolled by soldiers because of the threat of attacks.

The patrols were stepped up after the attacks at Brussels airport and in a city-centre metro on March 22, 2016, in which 32 people were killed.

Also on Friday, two London police officers were slightly injured as they arrested a man outside Buckingham Palace after spotting a knife in his car. Anti-terror police are investigating the incident.

The latest incidents come in the wake of last week's deadly attacks in the Catalan region of Spain, when 15 people were killed and more than 120 injured in two vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils.