Archive for Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attack in Belgian city leaves 4 dead, 123 wounded

December 13, 2011, 10:04 a.m. Updated December 13, 2011, 2:47 p.m.

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— An official says the death toll in a grenade and gun attack in the Belgian city of Liege is now four, including the attacker.

Liege Prosecutor Danielle Reynders said Tuesday that the dead included a 15-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl, and a 75-year-old woman. Officials say at least 75 people have been wounded.

La Libre newspaper said one of the wounded is a 2-year-old girl, who is in critical condition.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LIEGE, Belgium (AP) — A man armed with hand grenades and guns opened fire in the crowded center of a Belgian city on Tuesday, killing two people and wounding 64, an official said.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack in Liege city, but Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens said it did not involve terrorism. He said the assailant died, but did not say how that had happened. The daily La Meuse newspaper said the unidentified attacker killed himself.

Earlier media reports had said as many as three men had launched the midday attack, which left blood splattered across the cobblestone streets of a central square in Liege where people were doing Christmas shopping.

Footage from the scene showed people, including a large group of children, fleeing down the streets of the city center — some still carrying shopping bags. Ambulances and police vehicles descended on the area in eastern Belgium.

As police helicopters and ambulances raced to the scene, the Belgian public broadcaster VRT reported that residents were ordered stay in their homes or seek shelter in shops or public buildings.

Another broadcaster, Radio Television Belge Francophone, said all buses had been asked to leave the city center and all shops in the area were closed, some with many customers stranded inside.

A medical post was set up in the courtyard of the palace of the Prince Bishops court house at the site. Emergency medical teams were called in from as far away as the Netherlands, Mertens said.

VRT Radio spoke with Herve Taveirne from the courthouse into which he had fled to escape the gunfire.

"We were in the courthouse building and were just leaving when we saw someone toss a grenade," Taveirne said. "I grabbed a little boy ... and took him back into the courthouse. Outside the building I heard shooting ... Our lives were in danger. This man was shooting in any direction. We ran for our lives at that point."

The television channel La Une said the attack included the assailant opening fire with a Kalashnikov automatic weapon on a bus in the areas.

New reports said the attack began at about 12:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. EST) when the man lobbed several grenades at the bus shelter in Place Saint-Lambert, a busy downtown square.

The reports said witnesses reported four explosions and gun fire.

An unidentified man who was wounded in the attack told Belgium's VRT television network that "someone threw grenades and fired shots."

Valerie Schaaps, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors office in Brussels, confirmed there had been explosions and gunfire, causing injuries.

Place Saint-Lambert is a busy crossroads. Every day 1,800 buses serve the square, which leads to downtown shopping streets. The Place Saint-Lambert and the nearby Place du Marche host the Liege's annual Christmas market which consists of 200 retail cabins and attracts some 1.5 million visitors a year.


AP correspondents Don Melvin, Gabriele Steinhauser and Robert Wielaard in Brussels contributed to this report.

Comments

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

How does one get grenades in a relatively civilized nation such as Belgium? If one has contacts in the terrorist community, that might be a simple task.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

Yea, in a country like this one, they'd be readily available. But Belgium?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

Actually, unless you are getting them from the ATF, grenades are not commonplace here.

Kansa 3 years, 4 months ago

Apparently there are ways. They are always digging up buried caches of armaments from WWII around here. I don't know how well they work after all those years, but the Belgian government does take precautions about neutralizing them. Here you have to have a license and belong to a sports or hunting club in order to own a gun. But then, chaos always trumps rules and regulations. They reported that the little 18 month old baby had died, about an hour ago on the local news (RTBF). What a pity.

Kansa 3 years, 4 months ago

I was just reading in dhnet.be (dernier heure--last minute) that the perpetrator's name was Nordine Amrani, and in 2008 he was arrested and sentenced to 58 months in prison after an anonymous tip. According to the article, he (and others) had 2800 marijuana plants and 9500 armaments of all types.

Kansa 3 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, 10 guns and 9500 pieces of armaments, of all types. My mistake.

tolawdjk 3 years, 4 months ago

pieces of armaments?

given that that is different from guns I am assuming that would mean ammunition? Just trying to understand the lingo.

Kansa 3 years, 4 months ago

Well, I read another account, in English and they said "gun parts." There is also an update which claims that the body of a woman was found at his home. People here in Belgium don't expect things like this to happen. The entire country is in shock.

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