A stabbing attack in Brussels that left at least one police officer dead is suspected to be “terrorist-related”, authorities said Thursday.
“It is suspected to be related to terrorism. Of course, that has to be confirmed by the investigation,” Eric Van Duys, a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office, told CNN.
In the incident on Thursday evening, a man with a knife attacked a police patrol. “Other officers arrived as backup and are using their weapons to shoot the assailant to control the person,” a North Brabant police spokesman told CNN via email.
“The injured have been taken to the hospital. The first duties of the investigation continue,” added the press representative.
The attacker was shot in the leg, said Eric Van Dersypt, a spokesman for the prosecution.
The attack took place around 19:30 local time on Rue d’Aerschot in the Brussels municipality of Cherbeek, according to Van Duyse.
After news of the attack, lawmakers sent their condolences to the family of the slain police officer.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre De Croix offered his condolences, saying his thoughts were with the family and friends of the dead officer.
“Our police officers risk their lives every day to keep our community safe. Unfortunately today it’s seen again,” he tweeted.
Belgian Interior Minister Annelie Verlinden described the incident as “terrible drama and heartbreaking news”.
“My thoughts are first and foremost with the next of kin, members of the police precinct and the entire police organization,” she tweeted.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close called it an “unbearable drama” in Brussels.
“We stand in solidarity with the police force. The police protect us and must be protected,” he said.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsol said she was “shocked” by the killing of a police officer in the line of duty.
“The Belgian police have worked so closely with (the European Parliament) over the years that it feels personal to us. All our thoughts are with them, their loved ones and everyone in Belgium,” she tweeted.
Several acts of terrorism have occurred in Belgium in the last ten years.
In 2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for a knife attack on soldiers in Brussels. The soldiers suffered minor injuries in the incident, but one managed to shoot the assailant, who later died in hospital.
In June of that year, a suspect was fatally shot at a Brussels transit station after a botched bombing that authorities described as a terrorist attack. In March 2016, 31 people were killed and more than 300 injured in coordinated attacks on the Brussels airport and metro station.