BRUSSELS, Aug. 7 (UPI) — The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s machete attack on two Belgian police officers after the prime minister announced it was conducting an investigation in whether it was terrorism.
The terrorism group on Sunday described the assailant as a “soldier of the caliphate” via the Amaq news agency, which is connected to the Islamic State.
Prime Minister Charles Michel announced Sunday “we have been informed by federal prosecutors that an investigation has started for attempted terrorist murder… given certain elements.” The attacker allegedly said “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for “God is Great.”
The two officers were injured by a machete-wielding man near the police station in the Belgian city of Charleroi about 37 miles south of Brussels, the authorities said. The two police officers were out of danger, Belgian authorities said Saturday night. One sustained serious head injuries.
Around 4 p.m. a man approached a checkpoint manned by two officers in front of the police headquarters, a Charleroi police spokesman told Belgian television and radio. He took a machete out of a sports bag he was carrying and struck the heads of the officers.
A nearby third police officer shot the attacker, who later died. The attacker has not been identified.
The prime minister said it was important to be “extremely prudent” in jumping to conclusions.
Michel cut short his vacation in France and returned to Belgium for a meeting Sunday of the National Security Council.
Islamist bombers killed 32 people in suicide attacks in Brussels in March.
The interior ministry said 457 Belgians had gone or tried to join jihadists in the Middle East. That includes several directly linked to the November attacks in Paris.