February 23, 2019

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Liège Gunman and 3 Victims Reported Dead in Belgium Shooting

Liège Gunman and 3 Victims Reported Dead in Belgium Shooting
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BRUSSELS — A gunman was killed on Tuesday after he shot dead two police officers and a civilian and took a hostage at a high school in the Belgian city of Liège, officials said. No students were injured.

“The students are in safety,” Hervé Jamar, the governor of the Province of Liège, who is responsible for overall security cooperation in the region, said on Twitter. “The individual has been neutralized.”

The episode started around 10.30 a.m., when the assailant, who has not been publicly identified, fired several times at two patrolling police officers and a bystander near a cafe, Aux Augustins, in central Liège.

The gunman fled on foot and took a female cleaner hostage in the nearby Atheneum Léonie de Waha high school, a public institution with several hundred students aged between 12 and 18.

The police moved in and freed the cleaner during an operation in which two further police officers were wounded and the attacker was killed. The area around the cafe and the high school was sealed off as the police opened an investigation.

Belgium is still on alert after attacks by a Belgian-based cell of the so-called Islamic State militant group that killed scores of people in Paris in 2015 and in Brussels in 2016.

Liège, a provincial city of about 200,000 inhabitants in Wallonia, Belgium’s southernmost region, was the site of a similar attack in 2011, when a gunman killed four people and wounded many more before shooting himself.

“Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrible act,” the Belgian interior minister, Jan Jambon, said on Twitter. “We are in the process of working out exactly what is happening.”

Belgium’s crisis center said a security cordon had been placed around parts of Liège, and it urged people to avoid the area.

A police investigation led by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, which takes charge of terrorism-related investigations, is ongoing.

Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London.

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