Thousands pay tribute to Belgian creche victims

Prosecutors have charged a 20-year-old unemployed Belgian with murdering the babies and a woman, and wounding 12 others, 10 of them children.

Thousands pay tribute to Belgian creche victims
Thousands of Belgians marched in quiet tribute on Sunday to two babies and a child minder killed in a frenzied knife attack on a creche.

Police estimated that about 8,000 people, including many families with children, walked through the town of Dendermonde, 30 km (20 miles) west of Brussels, to the Fabeltjesland -- Fairytale Land -- creche, scene of Friday's attack.

Prosecutors have charged a 20-year-old unemployed Belgian with murdering the babies and a woman, and wounding 12 others, 10 of them children, in what seems to be a motiveless attack.

Local media dubbed the assailant the "Joker" killer because his face was painted white and his eyes blackened, like the criminal mastermind in the Batman films.

He arrived at the creche mid-morning on Friday saying he wanted to ask a question but then ran inside and started slashing at victims with a knife, before cycling off.

Participants in Sunday's vigil said the town was in shock. "All the community is hurt by this," said Elke Van Goethem, mother of a one-year-old boy. "I think everybody knows somebody who has a child who was hurt or who was killed here."

Eddie Gaillard said people were confused: "It's something incredible, no one understands."

Sophie Smits, the mother of a three-year-old boy, said she wanted to show solidarity with the victims' families.

"We have a little three-year-old son. Of course, it comes straight down to your heart when something so terrible happens."

Those killed were aged six and nine months and the child minder was 54 years old. Some wounded children would require plastic surgery, hospital staff said.

A wall of flowers, teddy bears and other toys has been built outside the creche, which authorities say will not reopen.

Prosecutor Jan Kerkhofs said investigators were baffled as to the motive of the suspected attacker, identified only as "Kim D". He lived alone in a village some 30 km (20 miles) from the scene and has refused to speak since his arrest.

The man has no previous criminal record. When arrested he was carrying a knife, a small axe, a fake pistol and was wearing body armour. Two more knives were found at the scene.

"We don't have a clue," Kerkhofs said. "He's said nothing about it. We can only imagine. When you have a young man doing this to babies and he is armed with three knives and an axe and a bullet proof vest you only can imagine what his motives were."

Reuters
Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 15:34
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