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Deadly gun and grenade attack hits Belgium

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 00:04

Brussels: A gunman killed four people, including himself, in an attack in the Belgian city of Liege on Tuesday, Belgian media reported.

The man, named by Belgian press agency Belga as 32-year-old Nordine Amrani, opened fire and threw explosives on a city centre square which was hosting a Christmas market.

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.

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 to 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.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 18:42

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