The attacker was armed with two kitchen knives, one in each hand. The incident happened at around 5:30am outside the main police station on the Kolenmarkt in the centre of Brussels. Although there is still no precise indication as to the motive for the attack it is being treated as attempting murder within the context of terrorism.
Speaking at a press conference held on Tuesday morning the Brussels Judicial Authorities Spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said that although “It is not clear whether it was within the context of terrorism” this avenue needs to be investigated. “Some witnesses report having heard him shout ‘Allah akbar’ (God is great). The man has not yet been question. Further investigation should bring clarity”.
The investigation has not yet been transferred to the Federal Judicial Authorities that are responsible for major terrorist investigations. There is also no indication that anyone else was involved.
The man suspected of having carried out the attack is a 33-year-old Belgian national. He has a number of previous convictions for armed robbery. In 2014 he was interned after having been found guilty of attempted murder and possession of illegal weapons. Earlier this year he asked to be released on trial. This request was granted last month despite objections from the Judicial Authorities.
"An act of cowardice"
The Federal Interior Minister Jan Jambon (Flemish nationalist) has said in reaction that “Once again the police have been the victim of an attack. The assailant is currently not known to OCAD (the terror-threat assessment agent) not the police as having links to radicalisation or terrorism. However, is reported to have been interned and was released a while ago. However, this information is still provisional”.
Meanwhile, the Justice Minister Koen Geens (Flemish Christian democrat) has described the incident as “an act of cowardice”.