25 Jan 2009

Man charged over Belgium creche killings

7:55 am on 25 January 2009

Police have charged a 20-year-old unemployed Belgian with murder after two babies and a woman were killed and 13 others wounded in a frenzied knife attack at a creche.

Prosecutor Christian Du Four, at a news conference on Saturday, identified the man only as "Kim D", from Belsele, a village some 30 km from the scene of Friday's attack in the town of Dendermonde.

The man had no previous criminal record, Mr Du Four said. When he was 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.

The prosecutor said the assailant had not made any statement so nothing is known about his motive.

The man arrived at the Fabeltjesland (Fairytale Land) creche in Dendermonde, 30 km west of Brussels saying he wanted to ask a question, but then ran into the creche's rooms and launched his attacks, slashing at victims with a knife, before cycling away.

There were 18 infants aged up to three years and six adults in the creche. Those killed were aged six and nine months and a woman child minder, aged 54.

Some of the wounded children would require plastic surgery, hospital staff said.

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

Residents laid bouquets and teddy bears at the creche, mourning what Le Soir newspaper called an "appalling massacre" of innocents.