The Islamic State (IS) group's propaganda outlet Amaq has claimed responsibility for a Brussels attack on Friday in which three soldiers were attacked with a knife.
In a statement on Sunday, the group said one of its members carried out the Friday evening attack in response to calls to target member countries of the coalition fighting the IS group.
Belgian prosecutors have opened a terrorist probe into the incident, in which the attacker wounded one soldier after assaulting the troops shouting "Allahu akbar" (Arabic for "God is great"). He was shot dead by troops.
The Federal Prosecutor's Office said the man, 30, was known to police for assault charges but had no previous terror-related offenses. The suspect, a Belgian citizen of Somali origin, was also carrying a fake firearm and copies of the Koran.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted shortly after the attack that "all our support is with our soldiers. Our security services remain on alert. We are following the situation closely."
In June, Belgian troops shot dead a suspected suicide bomber at Brussels' main train station. The man was later identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national, the federal prosecutor's office said.
The Belgian capital – home to the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union – has been on high alert since a Brussels-based Islamic State group cell organised an attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Four months later, associates of those attackers killed 32 people in Brussels.
Attacks in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden have been carried out in the name of the Islamist group by other young men, many of them locals.
"Such isolated acts will continue in Brussels, in Paris and elsewhere. It's inevitable," Brussels security consultant Claude Moniquet, a former French agent, told broadcaster RTL shortly after the thwarted attack at Brussels central station.
With the Islamic State group under pressure in Syria - with Belgium being the most fertile European recruiting ground for foreign Islamist fighters - he said attacks in Europe may increase, though many of these would be by "amateurs" who would not manage to commit large acts of terror.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS, AFP)
Date created : 2017-08-25