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Belgian soldiers shot dead a man in the centre of Brussels on Friday evening after he came at them with a knife, shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great), in a case authorities are treating as a terrorist attack.

The presence of soldiers on the streets of Brussels is part of a large-scale security operation created to reassure the public in the wake of terrorist attacks in the city in March 2016 in which 32 people were killed.

Authorities said that the 30-year-old man is not known for any terrorist activities.

The attacker was armed with a knife, the federal prosecutor's office said.

The attacker is still alive but is in a critical condition, Belgian prosecutors said.

"We do consider it a terror attack", Natus said.

It added that the soldiers suffered slight injuries, one to the hand and the other to the face.

Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted that "all our support is with our soldiers".

The attack took place on Boulevard Emile Jacqmain in the centre of Brussels, local media reported. "We are following the situation closely".

"He was lying on the ground, appeared dead", he told AP.

Soldiers and extra police have been deployed at public buildings and around large gatherings for more than a year.