A young Belgian man attacked a crowd in the city of Liège today, firing shots and throwing multiple grenades at people in the central square in downtown Liège. Several people were killed and scores injured in this attack before the young man killed himself.
Details are just emerging on the attacker, who appears to have no ties to terrorist groups. It appears that this attack was in retaliation for a judicial sentence, but investigations are ongoing.
Meanwhile, another attacker fired on African immigrants in Firenze (Florence), Italy, killing two Senegalese men. The attacker, a middle-aged Italian man with known connections to racist groups, apparently committed suicide following the attacks.
Faculty and students at Northern Illinois University can sympathize with the victims in Belgium and Italy, and with all who have experienced similar acts of violence. An ex-student killed five students and wounded dozens in a shooting on NIU’s campus in 2008. Libération provides a map of the bloodiest rampages since 2001, but they have left out the NIU shooting in 2008 and other rampages:
Gun violence and political extremism in the European Union are growing problems that need to be considered carefully by historians of violence. Europeans will doubtlessly wonder whether the attackers in both of these rampages had ties to extremist groups within Europe, since a number of acts of violence over the past several years were committed by European males who had connections with racist and/or militant groups.
France 24, Libération, and the BBC provide follow-up reports, indicating that 4 persons were killed and 125 wounded in the rampage in Liège. The attacker in Liège has been identified as Nordine Amrani, a Moroccan-Belgian man who had had been investigated for marijuana growing and arms possession. Amrani’s former lawyer has accused Belgian police of harassing his former client. More information will follow as details emerge.