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Machete Attack on 2 Belgian Police Officers May Be Terrorism: Officials

A machete attack Saturday that injured two female Belgium officers outside of a police station appears to be linked to terrorism, the country's prime minister said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told local broadcaster RTL that "preliminary indications" suggest the attack against the officers in the southern city of Charleroi was an act of terrorism, but that authorities are still collecting information.

The attacker, who was shot by a third officer, subsequently died of his wounds, but the police officers were out of danger, officials added. The suspect was not immediately identified.

Image: BELGIUM-ATTACK-POLICE
Police secure the area around a police building in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi following a machete attack on Aug. 6. FRED DUBOIS / AFP - Getty Images

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said it wasn't immediately clear whether the assault, which he denounced as an "act of barbarism" was the deed of a single person or something more elaborate. According to reports, the suspect yelled "Allahu Akbar" ("God Is Great") during the rampage.

"We don't know if this is the action of a lone wolf," Jambon told RTL.

NBC News could not immediately confirm the details of the incident.

"I condemn the attack in Charleroi with force," Michel tweeted in Dutch. "Thoughts go to the victims, their relatives and police. We are following the situation closely."

The prime minister has cut short his vacation in the south of France and will return to Belgium for a meeting Sunday of the National Security Council.

The machete attack Saturday took place at a wooden hut that had been erected outside the Charleroi police station to provide an additional layer of security.

Paul Magnette, mayor of the city in southern Belgium, says the checkpoint succeeded in preventing the attacker from reaching the building and causing more havoc. The mayor said that in the wake of the attack, Belgian authorities are discussing whether security for police facilities and officers should be beefed up further.

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The small European country has been on edge since 32 people were killed in suicide attacks in Brussels in March, and many of the jihadists who carried out attacks on Paris last November in which 130 people died were based in Belgium.

Brussels, home to European Union institutions and the headquarters of NATO, and the rest of Belgium are currently on a security alert level of three out of a maximum of four, a "serious" status with a "possible and probable" threat.