Although the knife attack on soldiers patrolling the centre of Brussels on Friday evening will be handled by the Federal Prosecutor’s office, the “shooting incident” (a soldier shot the attacker in self-defence) will remain with the Brussels Prosecutor’s office. This was confirmed by Ine Van Wymersch, the spokesman for the Brussels Prosecutor’s office. There were two shots, fired by only one of the soldiers. The suspect, a Somalian man who “was going to turn thirty soon”, died from his wounds.
“The Somalian’s attack on the soldiers is being handled by the Federal office” as there is a suspected terrorist link. “However, the shooting is not and will stay with the Brussels Prosecutor’s office”, its spokesman told the Belga agency. It will therefore be the Brussels office who will decide whether the soldier was justified in shooting or not.
The Brussels Prosecutor’s office said the soldier “shot according to the rules of engagement and in legitimate self-defence” a little after 11pm on Friday.
At around 8:15pm, an individual (who was later identified as a Somalian born in 1987) ran at three patrolling soldiers while armed with a knife. The incident took place on boulevard Emile Jacqmain. One of the soldiers received a minor injury to the hand during the attack. The defendant was heard to cry “Allahou akbar” twice. Shortly after the incident it was announced that the investigation will be handled by the Federal Prosecutor’s office as it is being considered a terrorist attack.
During a press conference, Brussels mayor Philippe Close insisted that the attacker was “an isolated individual”. He added that not much is known about the suspect, but he was “quickly neutralised” and life should continue as normal in the capital. The suspect was initially taken to hospital after being shot twice, but his death was confirmed by the Federal Prosecutor’s office between 10 and 11 pm.
The terrorist threat level in the country has not changed: three out of four, which means an attack is “possible and likely”.