Page last updated at 22:39 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Belgian creche suspect questioned


Parents gather at the scene of the attack

The man suspected of killing two toddlers and an adult in a stabbing spree at a Belgian nursery is a 20-year-old Belgian, a prosecutor said.

The man - who is being questioned - was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and had no previous convinctions, prosecutor Christian Du Four added.

He was arrested after the knife attack in Dendermonde in which 10 children and two adults were also injured.

All 12 were operated on and their lives are no longer in danger, a doctor said.

Members of the Belgian royal family have gone to the town to offer comfort to emergency workers.

Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde arrived at a crisis centre in the Dutch-speaking north-western town on Friday evening.

A man, who is believed to have painted his face black and white, reportedly tricked his way into the nursery on Friday morning, then ran amok stabbing children and staff before escaping by bicycle.

The unnamed suspect was detained at a supermarket a short distance away by a police patrol.

The two dead children were aged six and nine months, Belgium's Le Soir newspaper reports.

'Large knife'

Mr Du Four refused to name the detainee but said he came from the town.

Emergency workers outside the creche in Dendermonde, Belgium

"He is a 20-year-old Belgian, not of foreign origin," he said.

Denying initial rumours, he added: "He did not escape from a psychiatric institution. He was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

The detainee had "not said anything on the facts [of the crime]".

"There is enough incriminating evidence to bring him before the investigative magistrate and get an arrest warrant," the prosecutor said.

He also announced that the weapon had been found, describing it as a "large knife", about 30cm (12in) long.

Leene Du Bois, a spokeswoman for the regional government of Flanders, said the suspected killer had had no connection to the nursery.

'Multiple stab wounds'

The 10 injured children all had "multiple stab wounds on their legs, arms and all over their bodies", a Dr Ignace De Meyer said.

Earlier, parents had been asked to identify their children from digital photographs taken at local hospitals.

The attack reportedly began after a man rang the doorbell at the Fabeltjesland nursery on Friday morning and told staff he needed some information.

When they opened the door, he ran in and "quickly pulled out a knife and started using it on the children", Mr Du Four said.

"He then went up to another floor and started doing the same thing again."

Nursery staff reportedly tried to stop the attacker and the dead adult is said to be a nursery employee.

The prosecutor said the man's face had been smeared with a white colouring but his eyes had been blackened.

The nursery looked after 18 children aged three and under.

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