Four people have been killed and at least 75 were injured during a grenade attack in a Christmas shopping area in Liege, Belgium.
The shoppers, many of them children, ran screaming for safety in the panic as the attacker Nordine Amrani opened fire.
The dead included a 15-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl, and a 75-year-old woman.
Nordine Amrani, 32, who was a convicted sex attacker and drug dealer, also died.
A two-year-old girl is in critical condition in hospital.
Men, women and children fled down the streets of Liege centre – some still carrying shopping bags – as ambulances and police descended on the area.
Detectives said Nordine Amrani used a rifle, a pistol and grenades in the attack.
In the initial chaos, reports said up to three men had taken part in the attack, but the Interior Ministry later confirmed only one was involved, adding the incident was not terrorism-related.
Nordine Amrani was on his way for police questioning when he attacked a crowd near a bus stop at Place Saint Lambert, a central shopping square which is the site of the city’s Christmas market and its main courthouse. It was not clear whether he committed suicide or died accidentally.
Gaspard Grosjean, a journalist for local Liege newspaper La Meuse, ran over to the square just after the attack, shortly after 12:30 p.m.
“We saw people with bullet wounds in their shoulders, their hands,” the journalist said, adding that he had seen one dead body.
“I see people completely scared, people are crying, everyone is on their phones.”
Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens confirmed the attack in the city and said emergency medical teams were called in from as far away as the Netherlands.
The broadcaster Radio Television Belge Francophone said that all buses had been asked to leave the city centre and all shops in the area were closed, some with many customers stranded inside.
It said police helicopters were flying over the city and a medical post has been set up in the courtyard of the palace of the Prince Bishops (the court house) located on the site.
Police were on the scene quickly and sealed off the square. TV images showed blood splattered across the cobblestones.
Valerie Schaaps, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Brussels, confirmed there had been explosions and gunfire, causing injuries.
Place Saint-Lambert is a busy crossroads. Every day 1,800 buses serve the square, which leads to downtown shopping streets. The Place Saint-Lambert and the nearby Place du Marche host the Liege’s annual Christmas market which consists of 200 retail cabins and attracts some 1.5 million visitors a year.