Rescuers evacuate injured victims at the Place Saint Lambert square
10:09pm UK, Wednesday December 14, 2011
Witnesses have told how a grenade-lobbing gunman brought horror to a normally peaceful Belgian city.
The people of Liege are facing the aftermath of a rampage which left five people dead including the attacker, Nordine Amrani, who shot himself in the head.
The 33-year-old perched himself on a baker’s rooftop and began targeting people on the ground below, which was busy with Christmas shoppers and workers going for a lunchtime stroll.
A body believed to be that of gunman Nordine Amrani
A baker, Patricia, said: “We heard two huge deafening noises and then lots of explosions, people were running everywhere.
“We closed the door, turned off the lights and hid behind the counter with the customers.”
Another witness, Nicolas, ran for his life as Amrani – a known criminal released from jail
last year – hurled explosives and opened fire. He said: “He threw his arm around to throw something, and suddenly there was this explosion.
Nicolas Gimenne said: “I saw a man on a cafe terrace… with a bag at his feet. “He reached in to pull something out, which I thought was a stone or something like that.
“He threw something maybe 20 yards, onto a bus shelter that exploded.” Mr Gimenne said he heard four more explosions and then suspected gunfire.
A cafe owner told how sirens and helicopters could be heard approaching the scene.
Gunman Nordine Amrani (Photo: Sud Presse)
“They barricaded the area and got people out of the square or the street and into the cafes and stores,” the witness added. “They told us to run.”
Outside a CD shop, staff told how they slammed down shutters after bullets whizzed by.
Another shop worker told Belgian television she saw the killer pull out a revolver afterwards and “shoot himself in the head”.
She added: “That finished it, he was dead.”
In the immediate aftermath, armed police approached street corners, peering round buildings before darting off down side streets.
Pools of blood were seen on cobblestones and TV footage showed two bodies lying on a sealed-off road as police ushered away a family with a young baby.
Emergency workers carried off one young woman with an injured leg as another girl told how she sought sanctuary in a church.
New home affairs minister Joelle Milquet said she was “profoundly shocked by the brutality” of the attack.
Amrani’s motive remains unclear. Belgium’s prison service said he had been released on bail last year after being put behind bars for arms and drugs offences, but was not aware of the killer being monitored by a specialist national terror threat agency.