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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Belgium Machete Attack

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday against two police officers in Charleroi, Belgium, according to a statement issued on Sunday by the group's Amaq News Agency.

Two police officers were severely wounded in the face and neck at a security checkpoint at the entrance to a police station in Charleroi by a man wielding a machete and shouting "Allahu akbar." The assailant was shot and died later in a hospital.

The statement called the assailant a "soldier of the Islamic State" who had carried out the attack "in response to calls to target citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition," a reference to nations involved in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The language was nearly identical to claims of responsibility issued by the Islamic State for other attacks in recent weeks, including an ax attack by an Afghan refugee in Würzburg, Germany, and the killing of a priest in the Normandy region of France.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office said in a statement on Sunday that there were "indications that the attack may have been inspired by a terrorist motive" and that it had taken over the investigation from the prosecutor's office in Charleroi.

The federal prosecutor's office identified the attacker as a 33-year-old Algerian who had been living in Belgium since 2012. The office identified him only by the initials K. B.

"He is known to police for criminal facts, not for terrorism," the statement said. It added that a bomb squad had found no weapons or explosives in a rucksack the man carried during the attack.

Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, said on Twitter on Saturday that the agency that monitors intelligence on terrorism and other threats had not changed the threat level in light of the attack.

France and Belgium are still on heightened alert after a network of Islamic State militants carried out attacks in November in Paris and in March in Brussels, killing a total of 162 people.

A string of attacks this summer also stoked fears about security, including one that killed 85 people in Nice, France, on July 14, for which the Islamic State also claimed responsibility.

[Source: By Aurelien Breeden, International New York Times, Paris, 07Aug16]

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