A man has shot dead two female police officers and a civilian in the eastern Belgian city of Liège.
The gunman also took a female cleaner hostage at a school before being killed by police. Four other police officers were also injured.
The man’s motive is not yet clear but the incident is being treated as terrorism.
Police sources quoted in local media said the man was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic).
Belgian broadcaster RTBF said the gunman was let out from prison on temporary release on Monday where he had been serving time on drug offences. It said that he may have been radicalised while in jail.
Liège mayor Willy Demeyer confirmed the deaths of the two female officers during a press conference and said that “physical and psychological support” would be provided to the families of the victims.
A bomb squad was sent to the scene of the shooting in Liege, Belgium
Mr Demeyer added that “all flags on municipal buildings” were to be flown at half-mast, a book of condolences would be placed in the local town hall and a service would be held at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday to honour the victims.
The shooting unfolded late morning on Tuesday near a cafe in the city centre.
Prosecutors said the man followed and “savagely” attacked the officers from behind with a knife before taking a gun from them and opening fire.
He also shot dead a 22-year-old man who was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car as he walked in the direction of a nearby school, where he briefly took a member of staff hostage.
“The young man who was killed in the vehicle was a pupil of the high school in Liège, he was going to qualify as a primary school teacher in the next few weeks,” Mr Demeyer said.
Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that investigators were trying to establish “exactly what happened”, adding: “Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrible act.”
What’s the wider situation?
Belgium remains on alert after a series of jihadist attacks in the country and in neighbouring France.
A Brussels-based cell was involved in the 2015 Paris attacks which left 130 people dead in several locations.