x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Four killed in hand grenade attack in Belgium

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack, but an interior ministry official, Peter Mertens, said it did not involve terrorism.

Belgian police were quick to evacuate Place Saint Lambert square in the city of Liege, where the grenade attacks took place.
Belgian police were quick to evacuate Place Saint Lambert square in the city of Liege, where the grenade attacks took place.

LIEGE, BELGIUM // Four people were killed and 75 injured yesterday after a man armed with grenades and an assault rifle attacked holiday shoppers at a central square in the Belgian city of Liege.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack, but an interior ministry official, Peter Mertens, said it did not involve terrorism.

Belgian officials identified the attacker as Norodine Amrani, 33, a Liege resident who had served time in prison for offences involving guns, drugs and sexual abuse.

He was among the dead, but Liege prosecutor Danielle Reynders said it was unclear if he committed suicide or died by accident. He did not die at the hands of police, she added.

The victims included two boys, age 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman.

The La Libre newspaper reported that a 2-year-old girl was in critical condition.

Mr Reynders said Amrani had been summoned for police questioning yesterday but the reason why was not clear.

Officials said Amrani left his home in Liege with a backpack, armed with hand grenades, a revolve and an FAL assault rifle.

He walked alone to the central square. From a platform, he lobbed three hand grenades toward a bus shelter then opened fire.

He still had a number of grenades with him when he died, Mr Reynders said. There was much initial confusion over the shooting as events unfolded, with initial reports of more than one gunman.

A journalist, Nicolas Gilenne, said he had just left the courthouse, where he was covering a trial, when the attack began.

“I saw a man wave his arm and throw something at the bus shelter,” he said. “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 in about 10 seconds.”