Thousands march for Belgium terror shooting victims

Thousands march for Belgium terror shooting victims

The marchers laid white roses at the scene of the attack, in which gunman Benjamin Herman shot dead
The marchers laid white roses at the scene of the attack, in which gunman Benjamin Herman shot dead two policewomen and a student. (Photo: AFP/Nicolas Maeterlinck)

LIEGE, Belgium: Nearly 3,000 people marched in the Belgian city of Liege on Sunday (Jun 3) to honour the three victims of a shooting there last week that prosecutors are treating as a terrorist attack.

The marchers, most dressed in white, made a solemn procession through the city's sunny streets before laying white roses at the scene of the attack by Benjamin Herman, who shot dead two policewomen and a student on Tuesday.

Hundreds of white balloons were released into the sky at the culmination of the march, which comes ahead of official funerals on Tuesday for the two slain officers, who have both been posthumously awarded Belgium's highest civilian decoration.

"I think it's important to be here, just to support the family, not to change things. Just to show to the family that we are here and support them," Marie Pousset, who was among nearly 3,000 marchers according to local police, told AFP.

Government officials and a representative of Belgium's king are set to attend the funerals for police officers Lucile Garcia, 54, and Soraya Belkacemi, 44, on Tuesday morning.

Student Cyril Vangriecken, 22, shot dead by Herman as he sat in the passenger seat of a parked car, will be buried on Monday.

Belgian police have identified Herman, 31, as a serial offender who spent a decade in and out of prison for acts of violence and petty crimes and came into contact with extremist Islamists while in jail.

Herman attacked the two policewomen with a knife, stabbing them repeatedly before taking their service pistols and shooting them, then Vangriecken.

Herman went on to hole up in a nearby school, briefly taking a cleaner hostage before bursting out to confront police and being cut down in a hail of bullets.

The Islamic State group claimed one of its "soldiers" was responsible for the attack, through its Amaq propaganda agency.

IS said "he led the attack in response to calls to target the countries of the US-led international coalition," which is fighting the jihadist group, mainly in Syria.

Prosecutors said Herman's method of attack has been encouraged in online videos from IS, which claimed a deadly double suicide bombing in Brussels in 2016.

Source: AFP/zl

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