A gunman who shot dead two police and a civilian in Liege, Belgium, on Tuesday was a petty criminal who was released from jail on Monday, according to local media reports.
The man, thought to be aged in his 30s, attacked two female officers from behind with a knife before grabbing one of their handguns and opening fire.
His rampage continued as he walked down the street, fatally shooting a 22-year-old man sitting in a parked car.
He then sought refuge at a nearby school and took a woman hostage. She was unharmed.
The offender opened fire again when heavily armed officers converged on the scene; several were wounded.
The gunman was killed in the shoot-out.
Liege Chief Police Officer Christian Beaupere said: "It is clear that the aim of the assassin was to attack the police because this is what he did first by hiding behind the two police officers and after that, slaughtered them savagely from the back."
Police have not released the offender's name, but it is believed he was released from prison a day earlier after serving time for drug offences.
Investigators are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
The attacker was heard to shout "Allah Akbar" which means God is great.