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Attacker shouting 'Allahu akbar' stabs Belgian policeman

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An attacker shouting “Allahu akbar” stabbed a Belgian policeman several times in the neck in central Brussels on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

The assailant, who wielded two kitchen knives during the incident outside the city’s main police station, was then shot and wounded by two police officers, they said in a statement.

The man is under arrest and in critical condition in hospital. The policeman is also in hospital but did not suffer life-threatening injuries in the attack at around 5.30 a.m. (0430 GMT).

“We have not yet establish the subject’s motives,” the city prosecutors said. “Several witnesses heard him shout ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest). The investigation will establish whether this is a terrorist act.”

The assailant had a criminal record of stealing and violence. He was jailed in 2014 for attempted murder and for carrying an illegal weapon but was released last month.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon described the incident on Twitter as “another cowardly act against our police officers”.

Belgium, home to European Union institutions and NATO, has been on alert since 2016 when suicide bombers killed 32 people at Brussels airport and on the city’s metro, although the national threat level was reduced in January to two from three on a four-point scale.

The attack came during a two-day visit to Belgium by French President Emmanuel Macron, which included talks on improving security co-operation between the two countries.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by David Stamp