A man shot dead two police officers and a passer-by in the Belgian city of Liège on Tuesday in what prosectors are treating as a terrorist attack.
But he said information about Herman's contacts with extremists dated "from late 2016, early 2017" and had not been confirmed since.
A white vehicle is taken by a tow truck at the scene of a shooting at the boulevard d'Avroy in Liege, on May 29, 2018, after a gunman shot dead three people, two of them policemen, before being killed by elite officers.
Prosecutors said the man followed and "savagely" attacked the two women officers from behind with a knife before taking a gun from them and opening fire.
The decision to grant Herman a temporary leave from jail was "not taken lightly, and there is therefore no reason to suggest an error took place", Jambon said. "He used the weapons on the officers, who died", spokesman Phillip Dulieu told reporters. Herman then took a cleaning woman hostage at a nearby school.
"He came out firing at police, wounding a number of them, notably in the legs". The hostage was not harmed. Lucile Garcia (right) is understood to be the second officer killed. Four other officers were wounded in the attack, one seriously with a severed femoral artery.
Local media in Belgium have named the assailant Herman, who was serving time for drug offences and classified as "unstable", according to RTBF.
"He also committed a murder the night before", Interior Minister Jan Jambon told broadcaster RTL. "It is a serious hypothesis", he told the VRT network. Some unconfirmed reports say he had been granted several hours of leave from prison, reportedly to seek work.
"There are elements that point in the direction that this is a terrorist act", said Eric Van Der Sypt, spokesperson for the Belgian federal prosecutors office.
"To guarantee that all the measures we take are 100 successful is impossible", Jambon said. But the notes focused on "others or other situations", not Herman specifically.
The justice minister said Herman had been freed for two days to prepare for his eventual release in 2020. He certainly was not someone who could clearly be qualified as radicalised. "Otherwise he would have been known as such by all services", Geens said.
A gunman has killed three people in the city of Liege in an attack that is suspected to be terror-related.
The national crisis centre said it had not raised its alert level - an indication the man was believed to be acting alone and so follow-up attacks were not expected. It briefly stood at a maximum 4 shortly after the 2016 attacks.
In a message on Twitter shortly after the outrage, Mrs May said: "My thoughts are with the victims of today's cowardly attack in Belgium and their grieving families".
Belgium's global footballers paid tribute to the victims of this week's Liege attack as Eden Hazard and Co stood for a minute of silence before training.
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