VIDEO: Four dead and 74 injured in grenade attack on Belgian Christmas shoppers
Published 13/12/2011 | 13:12
A MAN armed with grenades and guns has killed at least three people and himself in a random attack on a in the Belgian city of Liège.
The victims were two teenagers and an elderly woman.
And around 74 people are believed to be injured.
One witness told local RTL TV that he heard three ‘‘large explosions" and then a series of shots ringing out.
He said: "There were sounds of gunfire and then everyone scattered.
"I just hid myself...there was total panic."
Dozens of other bystanders were injured in the rampage in a busy square packed with Christmas market shoppers.
In the initial chaos reports said up to three men had taken part in the attack, but the police later claimed only one was involved.
Reports suggest the incident is not terrorism-related.
Men, women and children fled down the streets of the city centre as ambulances and police descended on the area.
Many were still carrying their bags full of Christmas shopping.
The killer, according to police, was known to police and had set himself up on a rooftop in the square before opening fire.
All traffic was told to leave the city centre and all shops in the area were closed, some with many customers stranded inside.
Police helicopters patrolled over the city and a medical post was set up in the courtyard of the palace of the Prince Bishops court house.
Emergency medical teams were called in from as far away as the Netherlands.
One report said that the man lobbed grenades into a crowd at a bus shelter and opened fire at about 12.30pm. Police were on the scene quickly and sealed off the square.
The Place Saint-Lambert and the nearby Place du Marche host the Liège’s annual Christmas market which consists of 200 retail cabins and attracts some 1.5 million visitors a year.
The attacker was named as Nordine Amrani and he was known to police for firearms offences.
Amrani was jailed for 58 months in September 2008 for possessing firearms and drugs, according to reports.
He had more recently been asked to come for an interview at a police station in connection with charges against him.
A resident claimed he left home with a rifle, a pistol and three grenades in a bag.
"We saw four explosions. I was in a building 200m from Saint-Lambert Square," a local journalist claimed.
"It was quite incredible. We saw one man on the roof who tried to kill people. This man killed himself with a grenade."
Two of the three dead were teenage boys aged 15 and 17, the third a 75-year-old woman.
TV images showed blood splattered across the cobblestones of the square.
Doctors are trying to save the life of an 18-month-old child injured in the attack. Several others are reported to be in a serious condition.
Medical staff at a field hospital at the scene treated 52 of the injured while others made their own way to other hospitals.
Explosives experts were called in to search the area for unexploded grenades.