A lone assailant who killed one officer and injured another in a knife attack came to the police station hours earlier and expressed his hatred for them, Belgian authorities said.

The suspect made ‘unbalanced remarks’ during an interview with officers, Brussels said prosecutor Sarah Durant.

Because he voluntarily sought psychological help, he was not arrested and instead sent to the hospital – which he left soon after.

Just after the attack – which is being investigated as possibly related to terrorism – the suspect was shot dead by another police officer.

He is currently being treated in hospital.

Authorities were immediately criticized for failing to arrest the suspect when he made his first threats to police early Thursday.

However, Ms Durant said procedures said he had to be taken by the police to hospital because he himself had sought psychological help.

“Police remained on the scene until hospital staff took over,” she said.

A few hours later, when the police checked where he was, “it appears that the person had left the hospital”.

Eric Van der Sypt, from the federal prosecutor’s office, said investigators were looking into whether the Brussels attack took place in a “terrorist context”.

According Belgian media, the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar”, the Arabic expression for “God is great”, during the attack, which occurred around 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

The Belgian authorities have kept the overall level of terrorist threat at two out of four possible, which means that the risk of an attack is still “medium”.

Photo: AP

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo issued a message of condolence to the family and friends of the deceased officer.

“Our police officers risk their lives every day to keep our citizens safe,” he said.

“Today’s tragedy demonstrates this once again.”

Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said she was in contact with Brussels’ mayor, police chief and security services to coordinate a response to the attack.

“Such violence against our people is unacceptable,” she said.

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