A knife-wielding prison inmate on a 48-hour leave stabbed two police officers Tuesday in the Belgian city of Liege, seized their service weapons, and shot them and a bystander to death before being mowed down by a group of officers, setting off a major terror investigation into the country's most savage assault since the March 2016 attacks that left 32 people dead at the Brussels airport and subway system. Prime Minister Charles Michel acknowledged the assailant, who had a lengthy criminal record that included theft, assault, and drug offenses, had appeared in three reports on radicalism but was still allowed to take a leave from prison, the AP reports. "Is our system working when we see that these kind of people are running free?" asked Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The suspect is also believed to have killed an acquaintance the day before the Liege attack.
Tuesday's attack happened outside a cafe when the assailant crept up on the two female officers from behind and stabbed them repeatedly. "He then took their weapons. He used the weapons on the officers, who died," the Liege prosecutor's spokesman, Philippe Dulieu, told reporters. Dulieu said the attacker then shot and killed a 22-year-old teacher in a vehicle that was leaving a parking lot outside a nearby high school. He then took two women hostage inside the school before confronting police massed outside. "He came out firing at police, wounding a number of them, notably in the legs. He was shot dead," the spokesman said, adding that the hostages escaped unharmed. Sources tell Reuters that the suspect was Benjamin Herman, an inmate who converted to Islam and became radicalized in prison.
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