Belgium honours two policewomen slain by ‘ISIS gunman’ last week

Hundreds of officers line the streets to honour two policewomen slain by ‘ISIS gunman’ in Liege rampage last week

  • Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi were stabbed and shot by jihadist in attack in Liege last week
  • The pair were given a sombre farewell as hundreds of fellow police officers lined the streets
  • ‘We are a police force, when we lose an officer it’s like losing a family member,’ heartbroken colleagues said
  • Hundreds also gathered for the funeral of the attack’s third victim Cyril Vangriecken yesterday

Belgium has paid final tribute to two policewomen murdered in a jihadist attack in the eastern city of Liège.

Several hundred police officers from all over the country attended a sombre procession which followed the flower-strewn hearses of Lucile Garcia, 54, and Soraya Belkacemi, 44.

The gathered police force saluted as the two women’s caskets entered the funeral. 

Police officers from all over Belgium paid tribute to Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi who were killed in last week’s jihadist attack

The caskets of Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi were carried in flower-strewn hearses in Liege, the city they were killed

Members of the police stand to attention as the hearses carrying Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi enter the funeral service

A retired officer said: ‘Every time we lose an officer it’s like losing a family member. All we can do is to be there for each other’

The victims Soraya Belkacemi (left) and Lucille Garcia (right) seen in their uniforms in an undated photo by Liege Police

The brazen shooting a week ago, claimed by the Islamic State, shocked the nation and raised the spectre of a fresh wave of attacks two years after twin suicide bombings killed 32 people in Brussels. 

‘We are a police force, every time we lose an officer it’s like losing a family member,’ retired police officer Jean-Claude Bertrand said.

‘The only thing we can do is to be there for each other.’

Officers stood to attention as the hearses passed. Some had covered their orange armbands with a black mourning band. 

Alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stood several ministers and a representative of King Philippe. 

Members of the public were seen in orange armbands at the funeral of the two policewomen

Officers salute as the caskets of Soraya Belkacemi and Lucille Garcia are pulled from the hearses

An unidentified woman fainted during the service before being escorted by colleagues

On Monday, several hundred people turned out for the funeral of student Cyril Vangriecken, attacker Benjamin Herman’s third victim.

Friends and family of the 22-year-old walked behind the hearse dressed in white through the streets of Vottem near Liege ahead of the funeral, also attended by Michel.

The funerals follow a procession Sunday of nearly 3,000 people who marched to the scene of the attack and laid white roses in memory of the three victims. 

Herman carried out his rampage on May 29, repeatedly stabbing Garcia and Belkacemi with a knife before taking their service pistols and shooting them.

He then killed Vangriecken who sat in the passenger seat of a parked car. 

The attacker Benjamin Herman brandishing two firearms that he stole from Belkacemi and Garcia on his rampage

The two female police officers were stabbed and then shot dead with their own weapons in last Tuesday’s attack

Special forces next to the body of the attacker who shot himself outside a high school 

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    Several hundred people turned out for the funeral of student Cyril Vangriecken, the gunman’s third victim, yesterday

    The attacker holed up in a nearby school, briefly taking a cleaner hostage before bursting out to confront police and being killed in a hail of bullets.

    Belgian police who are treating the murders as a terrorist attack have identified Herman as a drifter who spent a decade in and out of prison for acts of violence and petty crimes. 

    The Islamic State group claimed one of its ‘soldiers’ was responsible for the latest 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 confirmed that Herman’s method of assault was a known ‘modus operandi’ of IS, which also claimed the deadly attacks in Brussels in 2016.

    Amateur footage obtained by AFP showed the gunman shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ (Arabic for ‘God is greatest’) as he walked through the streets during the rampage.  

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