By Daphne Psaledakis
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian police shot and seriously wounded a homeless man who they said attacked them with a knife after they found him sleeping rough in Brussels on Monday.
Prosecutors dismissed any terrorist motive on the part of the man, who they identified as a Belgian national of Egyptian origin, and opened investigations into both the knife attack and the police officers’ use of a firearm.
Shortly after 9 a.m. in an area dominated by government offices, two police officers used a baton and pepper spray on the man when he pulled the knife after they woke him and asked him to move on. When he slashed one in the face, the other officer shot the man in the chest and leg. A third shot missed.
The prosecutors office said the officer was only slightly hurt. The man was rushed to hospital, where he was in a stable condition by late afternoon but still unable to give evidence.
The man was in his early 40s and believed to be homeless, the prosecutors added in a statement.
Belgium has been on high alert for politically motivated violence since Brussels-based Islamic State militants attacked Paris in 2015 and Brussels in 2016. Prime Minister Charles Michel expressed his support for the injured police officer on Twitter, calling for “respect for our security forces”.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Alastair Macdonald/Mark Heinrich)