Liege attack shrouded in mystery
The Belgian city of Liege has been left asking itself "why?" in the wake of the random Christmas market gun and grenade attack that left three dead.
There were no immediate answers to why Nordine Amrani, a 33-year-old criminal, swept into a Christmas market to unleash a rampage that also wounded 123 others, then killed himself.
Deepening the mystery, police announced that the body of a cleaning lady had been found in a shed where Amrani grew cannabis close to his home. Liege Prosecutor Daniele Reynders said, after searches of Amrani's house, terrorism could be excluded. "It was a cleaning lady. This is how she met him yesterday morning," she said. "She dies, shot with a bullet in the head."
The Ferris Wheel at Liege's Christmas market started turning again today, hoping to restore some festive cheer, but the mood remained sombre. "The crowds won't show up," said Francoise Robert, selling miniature castles and Christmas items. "People are scared."
At the outdoor bus depot that Amrani attacked, a long parade of people bundled against the wind and rain paid tribute to the victims. Young women cried and families lit candles as shards of unswept glass still littered the pavement.
"Warum (why)?" asked one card, surrounded by toys, flowers and candles. The victims included an 18-month old girl and two teenage boys, both students. Five others are in a critical condition.
Adelie Miguel, a 48-year-old resident of Spanish descent, placed a bouquet of white tulips against the shattered bus stop. "We are all Liegeois, united in suffering," she said. "This was an act of a sick man."
Beyond the dead and injured, Ms Reynders said 40 other people had to be treated for psychological trauma.
In the capital, Brussels, the government pledged to toughen the gun law and put stricter controls on multiple offenders on conditional release. Amrani, who had done jail time for offences involving guns and drugs, had been called in for questioning on Tuesday by police in a sexual abuse case.
Amrani's lawyer said his client had been particularly scared over the last few days that he would be jailed again. It is unclear, however, if this was the tipping point.