Van der Sypt added that investigators suspected the attack took place in a “terrorist context.” The prosecutor’s office told AP it took over the case because there is “a suspicion of a terror attack.”
“One of our patrols was attacked by a man armed with a knife,” police said, quoted by the newspaper Le Soir. “The two police officers then called for reinforcements. An officer from another patrol used his firearm to neutralize the attacker.”
“The two injured detectives and the assailant were taken to hospital,” police added.
Le Soir said one of the officers was stabbed in the neck and died from his injuries.
The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported the suspect had gone to a police station Thursday morning warning that he would kill an officer. The ACV police trade union said in a Facebook post that it had information a person had gone to police earlier in the day threatening an attack. It added that the judicial authorities did not arrest him.
According to Belgian media, the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” during the attack, which occurred around 7:15 p.m.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo posted a message of condolences to the family and friends of the dead officer.
“Our police officers risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of our citizens,” he said. “Today’s tragedy demonstrates this once again.”
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said she was in contact with the Brussels mayor, police chief and security services to coordinate the response to the attack. “Such violence against our people is unacceptable,” she said.
Belgium has been hit by several terror attacks in the past decade, including suicide bombings in 2016 that killed 32 people and injured hundreds more in the Brussels subway and airport.