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Knifeman kills three in Flanders creche attack



Latest update : 2009-01-24

During a knife attack rampage at a day care center in Dendermonde, west of Brussels, one adult and two children were killed and at least ten children and staff were wounded. The assailant, whose face was painted black and white, has been arrested.

AFP - A man armed with a knife and wearing face paint killed two infants and an adult in a rampage at a Belgian creche on Friday, officials said.

Ten children and two staff were wounded, some seriously, in the attack in the town of Dendermonde near Brussels, prosecutor Christian Du Four said as anxious parents gathered to identify the victims and injured.

The man, who had his face painted white with black around his eyes, rang the doorbell at the The Country of Fables day-care centre at about 10:00 am.

After staff opened the door, he barged in and ran amok slashing at some of the children as they lay in beds, officials said.

The suspect, aged about 30, escaped on a bicycle but was detained nearby.

"The guy just went crazy," Theo Janssens, the Dendermonde deputy mayor for social affairs said. "There was blood everywhere, it was unbelievable, real carnage," he told AFP with tears in his eyes.

"He went straight for the babies and attacked them," Janssens said.

"The smallest ones were in their beds, they were probably asleep."

One child and one adult died at the scene while a second child later died from the wounds. Eighteen children were in the creche at the time, officials said.

Ten children, including the two most seriously injured, and two adults underwent surgery and were out of danger, a doctor, Ignace De Meyer, told reporters.

Parents gathered in the Dendermonde town hall and, with psychologists in support, identified the victims using photographs.

Du Four said the suspect entered the building by saying that "he had a question he needed to ask somebody."

"He quickly pulled out a knife and started using it on the children," the prosecutor added.

"He then went up to another floor and started doing the same thing again" he said. The man's face was smeared with white his eyes were blackened, the prosecutor said.

Six women members of staff tried to put themselves between the attacker and the children. One was hacked to death and two others were wounded in the legs or shoulders, officials said.

The suspect quickly fled was picked up by police a few kilometres (miles) away, officials said.

"He didn't panic, yes, he was calm," a man who lived next to the creche told RTL-TVI television, describing the suspect as extremely thin and tall.

A woman at the day-care centre said that the man, whom various media reported may have been a psychiatric patient in the area, was not known to staff.

"We are horrified by the events. Our thoughts go out to the families and staff of the creche. Many parents are in a state of shock," Interior Minister Guido De Padt told the press conference.

The tragedy is one of a number of deadly attacks at schools or child care centres in Europe in recent years.

Belgium is still in shock over the case of a woman who cut the throats of her five children and a series of paedophile scandals.

"The country is in shock and sorrow at this horrible act of violence committed in a society that strives to live in harmony and peace with everyone," said Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy in a statement.

After the attacks, children were sent to different hospitals and parents' anxiety was increased as authorities could not immediately identify which child had been sent to each hospital.

"I saw a lot of parents and grandparents who were wondering what was going on," said one onlooker, Hilda Diercks.

"There was a bit of panic in the schools and the children didn't dare go home because they thought the guy was still on the loose."


Date created : 2009-01-23