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Belgian gunman killed himself after spree: prosecutor

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 7:14 EDT
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Picture in Belgium after a gunman's shooting. Image via AFP.
 
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A lone gunman who went on a murderous spree in the Belgian city ofLiege committed suicide after slaying three youngsters in a crowded square and killing a cleaning-woman, the prosecutor said on Wednesday.

“Nordine Amrani committed suicide with a bullet to the head,” saidDaniele Reynders at a press conference. “The coroner said he shot himself in the forehead. He left no message to explain his act.”

The statement cleared up speculation that the 33-year-old with a long criminal record may have died accidentally when a fourth grenade he was carrying exploded.

In all, police found in his bag nine magazines along with his automatic rifle, hand-gun and several grenades, Reynders said.

Two youngsters aged 15 and 17 and a baby of 17 months died in Amrani’s lunch-hour grenade and gun attack on Liege’s central square, packed with Christmas shoppers and children just out of school.

The baby became the latest victim after succumbing to injuries overnight, with a 75-year-old woman who had previously been reported dead in critical condition along with several others.

Around 120 people had been injured in the attack, said Home Affairs Minister Joelle Milquet, who broke off European Union talks to dash to Liege.

Earlier Wednesday, police also discovered a dead cleaning woman aged around 40 in a shed he used to hide cannabis plants and illegal wepaons.

Released on parole just over a year ago for drug offences, Amrani had been summoned by police in the morning but never showed up.

Instead he headed to the central Saint Lambert square, climbed to the roof of a bakery and lobbed grenades into packed bus shelters before opening fire on the panicked crowd, according to witnesses.

Prosecutor Reynders said Tuesday that Amrani left home in the morning with his backpack and arms, clambered onto the bakery roof “and fired and then threw three grenades”.

“We heard two huge deafening noises and then lots of explosions, people were running everywhere,” said baker Patricia.

“We closed the door, turned off the lights and hid behind the counter with the customers.”

Hours after the drama, people wept on sidewalks amid the wail of ambulance sirens and the roar of helicopters overhead. There were pools of blood on the streets.

King Albert II and Queen Paola rushed to the scene, as did newly named Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who said: “The entire country feels the pain.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron telephoned Di Rupo to express condolences over the “appalling attacks.”

Amrani was accused in 2008 of illegal possession of arms and growing cannabis, but finally convicted only on the drugs charges. He was freed on parole in October 2010.

“There are no elements to suppose there was any terrorist claim” in the attack, Reynders said.

In his numerous brushes with the law, Amrani’s “stability was never in question,”she added.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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