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Belgium police find body at gunman's property

A slain cleaning woman is discovered in a shed at the residence of Nordine Amrani, who killed at least three other people the day before in a crowded Liege square before apparently shooting himself.

December 15, 2011|By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
  • A couple hug at the site of a gun and grenade attack in central Liege, Belgium. At least three children were killed at the site and more than 100 people injured. Some of the wounded are in extremely serious condition, according to media reports.
A couple hug at the site of a gun and grenade attack in central Liege, Belgium.… (Laurent Dubrule, Reuters )

Reporting from London — Police scouring the property of the gunman who lobbed grenades and fired on a busy square in eastern Belgium found the body of a cleaning woman dumped in a shed Wednesday, bringing the number of the attacker's suspected victims to at least four.

The woman had been shot in the head, apparently Tuesday morning before Nordine Amrani launched his bloody rampage in the Belgian city of Liege, local prosecutor Daniele Reynders said.

Armed with an assault rifle, a revolver and grenades, Amrani caused mayhem in the city center, killing at least three children and sending holiday shoppers fleeing before he died from what Reynders said was a bullet to the head. It remains unclear whether the apparently self-inflicted wound was deliberate or accidental.

More than 100 people were injured, several of whom remain in extremely serious condition, according to news reports.

Two teenage boys, 17 and 15, and a toddler were killed in the assault, which took place in the shadow of Liege's imposing cathedral and near its courthouse. A 75-year-old woman who authorities initially said had died in the attack was removed from the list of fatalities Wednesday, but Belgian news reports said she was not expected to survive.

Amrani, 33, had a history of drug and weapons convictions and was known to police, who summoned him for questioning on an unspecified matter Tuesday morning. He was reportedly sentenced to prison in 2008 after police discovered a cache of weapons and 2,800 marijuana plants at his home, but he was released on parole last year.

Jean-Francois Dister, who identified himself as Amrani's lawyer, told Belgian television Wednesday that he had spoken to his client on the phone shortly before the assault and that Amrani was worried about the possibility of being sent back to jail.

But authorities have not yet pinpointed a motive for the attack, except to rule out ideological terrorism.

The Sudpresse newspaper said that, on the eve of the assault, Amrani transferred money into his girlfriend's bank account with the message: "I love you, my love. Good luck!"

Shortly after noon Tuesday, Amrani threw at least three grenades that exploded at a bus stop in Liege's bustling Place St. Lambert, then sprayed the crowd with bullets. Video showed panicked people screaming and stampeding out of the square.

Such major gun violence in Belgium is rare. The country's king and queen and newly installed prime minister visited the site after the assault to pay their respects. Residents lighted candles and left flowers in the square Wednesday in remembrance of the victims.

henry.chu@latimes.com

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