BFF-51 Thousands march for Belgium terror shooting victims

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BFF-51

BELGIUM-POLICE-SHOOTING-ATTACK

Thousands march for Belgium terror shooting victims

LIEGE, Belgium, June 3, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Nearly 3,000 people marched in the
Belgian city of Liege on Sunday 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.

BSS/AFP/RY/1940 hrs