Liege rampage: Deadly grenade attack in Belgium (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Liege Prosecutor Danielle Reynders said that a 15-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and an elderly woman, as well as the assailant, were among the dead. An 18-month-old toddler died in hospital later on Tuesday evening.
Seven people have been taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens said Tuesday that there was only one assailant, and that person had died in the attack. The Belgian Newspaper Le Soir has identified the attacker, who also died in the blast, as 33-year-old Nordine Amrani. Amrani had previously served jail time for charges related to guns, drugs and sexual abuse. While it is not known what prompted the attack, authorities have ruled out terrorism as being a possible motive.
Officials said Amrani left his home armed with hand grenades, a revolver and an FAL assault rifle. He then walked unaccompanied to the central square, where he proceeded to throw three hand grenades toward a bus shelter before opening fire on the crowd, the Associated Press (AP) reports. Amrani had been called in by the police for questioning on Tuesday, though it is not yet clear why.
Eyewitnesses had previously said up to three men had taken part in the attack on Saint Lambert Square.
Police immediately cordoned off the area, as several suspect objects were reportedly found at the scene. Police now say the situation is under control.
Previous reports had also stated a second suspect has been detained, while the Belgian public broadcaster said a third assailant was still at large. Police subsequently urged people to stay home or seek shelter in shops or public buildings.
Radio Television Belge Francophone says all buses have been asked to leave the city center. Many shops in the surrounding area were shut down, leaving customers stranded inside, AP reports.
Police helicopters are currently circling the city, as a first aid post was set up in the courtyard of the palace of the Prince Bishops Courthouse.
The latest footage from the site. Eyewitness describes his first feelings soon after the tragedy.
A museum located on the square said it has taken in many of the injured.
"As we are very close and we have an open space where you can enter and leave with no problem. I can say there were injured, but don't ask me if it's five, seven, eight or nine. I don't know," said Archeoforum director Jean-Jacques Messiaen, Reuters cites him as saying.
Other unconfirmed reports had previously claimed that one of the attackers managed to flee inside the courthouse located on the square.
RTL-TV1 television also said the gunmen threw stun grenades into the courthouse, RTE News reports.
It was previously speculated that the attack might have been connected with the country’s first “honor killing” trial, which concluded this week.
On Monday, a Belgian court sentenced four members of a Pakistani family over the shooting death of 20-year-old Sadia Sheikh in October 2007.
Other reports have said Tuesday's events were connected with a failed prison break from the nearby courthouse.
However, no motive has been established for the attack.
Police secure the area at the Place Saint-Lambert in Liege after gunmen opened fire on the square on December 13, 2011 (AFP Photo / MICHEL KRAKOWSKI)
Ambulances and police are parked on the Place Saint-Lambert in Liege as a medical team arrives in the area after a gunman attack on December 13, 2011 (AFP Photo / MICHEL KRAKOWSKI)