What is this world coming to???
A man hurling grenades and firing a rifle and a revolver launched a lunchtime attack in Belgium Tuesday on a square crowded with children and Christmas shoppers, killing three and wounding 123 before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Officials identified the gunman as Nordine Amrani, 33, a criminal known to authorities for drug and arms offenses. The country’s federal crisis center said the attack was not terrorist related.
Two boys, aged 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman were killed in the rampage.
Home affairs minister Joelle Milquet, who broke off European Union talks to dash to Liege, said 123 people had been injured and five were in critical condition in the hospital, according to AFP.
Liege public prosecutor Daniele Reynders said at a news conference that Amrani committed suicide.
The motive behind the assault in Saint Lambert square, near the courthouse and a busy Christmas market in the eastern Belgian town of Liege, was unclear.
“It’s very difficult to determine the reasons for the attack, but we’re investigating all avenues,” the crisis center’s Benoit Ramacker told AFP.
Scores of teenagers emerging from end-of-year exams were on the square awaiting buses home when the attack began.
Witnesses said passersby ran for their lives, taking shelter in churches and shops, when Amrani apparently climbed on top of a bakery and opened fire with his guns, then hurled three grenades.
“We heard two huge, deafening noises and then lots of explosions, people were running everywhere,” a baker identified only as Patricia said on RTL-TV.
“We closed the door, turned off the lights and hid behind the counter with the customers.”
Journalist Nicolas Gilenne told AFP, “I saw a man wave his arm and throw something at the bus shelter. I heard an explosion. He turned around, picked something else up, pulled the pin. I started to run. He was alone and seemed very much in control.
“He wanted to hurt as many people as possible. I heard four explosions and shots during about 10 seconds.”