See RT for photos and video.
Did the incident have anything to do with Islam or terrorism? Not according to the Belgian government:
“Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens said the attack did not involve terrorism but did not explain why he thought that.”
Well, I can explain why he thought that. He thought that because he was told to think it by his superiors in Belgium, the EU, and all the way up to the OIC. The Muslim Brotherhood issues the talking points, and their dhimmi servants in Europe dutifully repeat them.
Interestingly enough, although the mainstream outlets seem to be avoiding discussing competing versions of the story, reports on forums and other internet sites say that there were actually three attackers, and at least one was heard to shout “Allahu Akhbar!” during his rampage.
The latest report from the AP:
Attack in Belgian City Leaves 4 Dead, 75 Wounded
LIEGE, Belgium (AP) — A man armed with grenades and an assault rifle attacked holiday shoppers Tuesday at a central square in the Belgian city of Liege, leaving four people dead and wounding 75 others, officials said.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack in the busy Place Saint-Lambert, the central entry point to downtown shopping streets in the industrial city in eastern Belgium. The attack ignited a stampede of hundreds, as shoppers fled the explosions and bullets.
Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens said the attack did not involve terrorism but did not explain why he thought that.
Belgian officials identified the attacker as Norodine Amrani, 33, a Liege resident who they said had done jail time for offenses involving guns, drugs and sexual abuse. He was among the dead, but Liege Prosecutor Danielle Reynders told reporters it was unclear if he committed suicide or died by accident. He did not die at the hands of police, she said.
The dead also included two teenage boys, 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman, she said. The La Libre newspaper reported that a 2-year-old girl was clinging to life.
Reynders said Amrani had been summoned for police questioning on Tuesday but the reason for the questioning was not clear. He still had a number of grenades with him when he died, she said.
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, then got onto a platform that gave him an ideal view of the square below, which was bedecked with a huge Christmas tree and crowded with shoppers.
From there, Amrani lobbed three hand grenades toward a nearby bus shelter, which serves 1,800 buses a day, then opened fire on the crowd. The explosions sent glass from the bus shelter across a wide area.
“I heard a loud boom,” said witness Dimitri Degryse. “I thought it was something on my car that was broken or something. Then a few seconds after a second boom, and I saw all the glass breaking, I saw people running, screaming.”
As soon as the shooting began, hundreds of people fled the square as well as a Christmas market in an adjacent square, rampaging through old city streets looking for cover. Video from the scene showed people, including a large group of children, fleeing the city center, some still carrying shopping bags.
Police closed off the area but found no accomplices and calm returned a few hours after.
Dawn has some intriguing details:
Lone Gunman Kills One, Wounds 64 in Belgian City Attack
Liege — A lone gunman opened fire on a square packed with children and Christmas shoppers in the eastern Belgian city of Liege Tuesday, killing three people before turning the gun on himself.
More than 60 people were also wounded in the lunch-hour attack, public prosecutor Daniel Reynders said, adding that the gunman was among the two dead. The country’s federal crisis centre said it was neither a terrorist incident nor linked to a pending criminal trial.
“It was a lone gunman,” the centre’s Benoit Ramacker told AFP.
“It’s very difficult to determine the reasons for the attack, but we’re investigating all avenues.”Belgium’s Home Affairs Minister Joelle Milquet broke off European Union talks and was headed for Liege after the attack, as was newly-named Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
Some reports said it was a foiled bid to rescue a suspect from the courthouse but judicial sources named the lone wolf as Nordine Amrani, who was known to police.
The sources said police had raided his Liege home recently seeking cannabis plants but had found arms instead. In 2008 he was senteced to almost five years behind bars for illegal possession of arms and growing cannabis.
There was much initial confusion over the events, with initial reports of more than one gunman.
“We heard two huge deafening noises and then lots of explosions, people were running everywhere,” a baker named only as Patricia said on RTL-TV. “We closed the door, turned off the lights and hid behind the counter with the customers.”
Journalist Nicolas Gilenne told AFP 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. 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 during about 10 seconds.” Residents earlier told local television that shots were fired across the square by gunmen posted on the rooftop of a bakery shop and grenades hurled at bus shelters and into the courthouse.
Reports had also said that two to three gunmen armed with either explosive flash grenades or killer defensive grenades were involved.
“The city centre is completely cordonned off. People are sheltering in shops or in buildings. Police are in position,” said a town hall employee contacted by AFP who asked not to be identified.
“Luckily the mayor had postponed the opening of the Christmas market due to bad weather and high winds. Otherwise many more would have died,” the source added.
From the live blog in The Telegraph:
At least two people have been killed and dozens wounded when up to four grenades exploded outside the main courthouse in the eastern Belgian city of Liege.
16.27 Still confusion over whether the Liege gunman committed suicide or died by accident: [Twitter] #Liege: police still inquiring if the attacker committed suicide. No confirmation still
16.09 Officials now say Amrani was on his way for police questioning when he launched the attack. Liege Prosecutor Danielle Reynders said the attack, in which the man lobbed three grenades and opened fire, resulted in the deaths of the gunman and three other people - a 15-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and a 75-year-old woman. Seventy-five people were wounded. La Libre Belgique newspaper reported that a 2-year-old girl was clinging to life. Officials say he had more grenades with him.
16.00 Officials say Liege gunman had criminal record involving guns, drugs and sex offenses
Hat tips: JP, Gaia.