Two Belgian policewomen on guard outside a police station in the city of Charleroi were wounded in a machete attack by an assailant who shouted "Allahu Akbar", police said.

The attacker was shot in the chest and the leg by a third officer, also a woman. He was taken to hospital where he later died. His name was not immediately known. One of the policewomen suffered severe face wounds when the assailant slashed her several times. She was being treated in hospital but her injuries were not described as life-threatening. Her colleague was less seriously injured.

The attacker arrived at a checkpoint outside the police station and immediately took a machete out of his bag before lunging at the officer, and repeatedly hacking at her head, witnesses said.

The checkpoint was designed to foil direct attacks on the police station but the assault highlighted the vulnerability of officers responsible for checking visitors before allowing them in.


As the assailant lunged at the officers, he yelled "Allahu Akbar", police said. Despite the outburst, the case was being handled by criminal rather than counter-terrorist prosecutors. A police spokesman said: "The investigation will have to show why the man staged the attack, and whether he maybe had mental problems."

Police cordoned off the area around Boulevard Pierre Mainz. The attack came less than five months after bomb blasts in Brussels killed 32 people. Charleroi, 48km south of Brussels, was used as a base by some of the jihadists involved in the Brussels bombings and attacks in Paris last November.

Vincent Gilles, vice-president of SLFP, the biggest police trade union in Belgium, urged the Government to "re-evaluate" the current level of threat in the country. Jan Jambon, the Interior Minister, said the attack had prompted a reassessment.