December 14, 2011

Belgium attacker left no explanation, prosecutor says

By Laura Smith-Spark and Nic Robertson, CNN

December 14, 2011 
Prosecutors are say the man who went on rampage in Liege left no explanation
Prosecutors are say the man who went on rampage in Liege left no explanation

Liege, Belgium (CNN) -- A man who went on a grenade and gun attack in the Belgian city of Liege left no explanation about why he did it, authorities said Wednesday.
There were at least 124 people in hospitals Wednesday, and at least five dead plus the gunman, according to prosecutor Danielle Reynders.
Nordine Amrani, the 33-year-old suspect, killed himself at the end of the shooting rampage Tuesday.
Authorities ruled out terrorism as a motive, saying he acted alone.
5 dead, many injured in Belgium attack
After the rampage, police found a dead woman in Amrani's home, a local police spokesman said Wednesday.
The 62-year-old woman is a cleaner whom the suspect killed before the attack, police said. The body was found in a marijuana-growing shed at Amrani's house.
Other victims included a 23-month-old baby who died in a hospital late Tuesday after being wounded in the attack near a Christmas market in a city center square, said Katrin Delcourt, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor.
Two teenage boys ages 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman, were also killed, the prosecutor said.
Belgium's third-largest city was in shock the day after the attack, which was like nothing the country has experienced before.
Amrani left his home Tuesday with a pistol, a semi-automatic rifle and the grenades in his bag, Reynders said.
He hurled three grenades and fired weapons from a rooftop into the crowded Place St. Lambert square near a court building, she said.
Police had asked the attacker, who had been previously convicted on drugs and weapons offenses, to come in for an interview in an ongoing investigation, the prosecutor said. He had never been charged with terror offenses, but had been accused of a range of sexual offenses.
Eyewitness to attack tells -- for her -- this was something like the 911 attack -- horrible, unexpected, shocking.
CNN's Nic Robertson
Amrani was on conditional parole, the provincial governor's spokeswoman said, but did not give details of the police investigation.
One of the weapons he had, a light automatic rifle, is a standard weapon in the Belgian army, Delcourt said.
A senior Belgian security source, who has been briefed on the investigation but did not want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Amrani's police meeting scheduled Tuesday was for suspected rape.
Amrani was on an elevated walkway above the square when he began firing and throwing grenades down into the crowd, before shooting himself in the head with his revolver, the source said.
He was previously in prison on drugs and arms racketeering charges after he was caught cultivating "several thousand" cannabis plants, the source said.
Easy access to black market weapons is what prosecutor blames on Amrani's arsenal of guns found at his home.

Authorities will conduct an autopsy in part to see whether he was under influence of drugs during the attack, which has shocked the country and its security service, the source said.
During Amrani's 40 months in jail, he was not diagnosed with any mental disorder or seen to be politicized before being released on conditional parole, according to the source. he said authorities have found no ties to Islamist terrorism.
Liege resident Kevin Hauzeur said he ducked for cover when he heard a "huge explosion and two or three gunshots" in the city center.
A lot of people were in the area at the time to shop at the Christmas market, Hauzeur said. The crowd was "spinning around, crying -- it was really chaotic," he said.
Municipal cleaning vehicles later sprayed the central market area with water, he said.
A large Christmas tree remained illuminated.

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