(AFP) – Jan 23, 2009
DENDERMONDE, Belgium (AFP) — A man armed with a knife and wearing face paint went on the rampage at a Belgian crèche on Friday, killing two children and an adult, officials said.
About 10 children were wounded, some seriously, in the attack in the small 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 black and white, rang the doorbell at the The Country of Fables day-care centre at around 10:00 am (0900 GMT). When staff opened the door he barged in and ran amok.
The suspect, aged about 30, escaped on a bicycle but was soon detained nearby.
"The guy just went crazy," Theo Janssens, the Dendermonde deputy mayor for social matters said. Three adults were injured as they tried to get between the attacker and the children, he told AFP.
"There was blood everywhere, it was unbelievable, real carnage."
Janssens, tears in his eyes, said: "He went straight for the babies and attacked them."
"The smallest ones were in their beds, they were probably asleep."
He said three of the injured had suffered life-threatening wounds.
One child and one adult died at the scene while a second child later died from the wounds. Around 18 children were in the crèche at the time, officials said.
Parents of the children were gathered together in the town hall and, with psychologists in support, were identifying the victims using photographs.
Du Four told reporters that 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."
Du Four said the man's face was smeared with white his eyes were blackened.
Six women members of staff tried to put themselves between the attacker and the children. All were injured, some with knife wounds to the legs or shoulders.
The suspect quickly fled but 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 crèche 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 crèche. 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.
In November 2007, an 18-year-old man opened fire in a high school in Finland, killing six children, the headmistress and a nurse before killing himself.
The gunman had announced his plan in a video on the YouTube Internet site.
Britain was the scene of the Dunblane massacre in 1996 when gunman killed 16 children, a teacher and himself at a school in the Scottish town.
A former pupil went on a shooting spree at a vocational school in Lower Saxony, Germany in November 2006, wounding 37 people before turning the gun on himself. He had warned of his intentions on the Internet.
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