Showing posts with label europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label europe. Show all posts

Monday, May 07, 2012

French Election: Hollande defeats Sarkozy 51.62 pct to 48.38 pct

French president-elect Francois Hollande wave to supporters with his companion
PARIS (AP) -- France has awoken to a new era after electing Socialist Francois Hollande as president, a leftist pledging to buck Europe's austerity trend and NATO's timetable for Afghanistan.

After an appearance before thronging crowds on Paris' Place de la Bastille in the early morning hours Monday at which he pledged "to finish with austerity," Hollande was back at work, arriving at his campaign headquarters around 10:30 a.m. local time.

Hollande has his work cut out to fulfill the hopes his victory has stirred on France's Left, overjoyed to have one of their own in power for the first time since Socialist Francois Mitterrand was president from 1981 to 1995.

Sarkozy is now the latest victim of a wave of voter anger over spending cuts in Europe that has ousted governments and leaders in the past couple of years.

Final results from France's presidential election show Hollande narrowly defeated Sarkozy with 51.62 percent of the vote, or 1.13 million of the 37 million votes cast in Sunday's election.

Sarkozy, who finished the first round about half-a-million votes behind Hollande, failed in his bid to attract sufficient votes from supporters of far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The head of the National Front party refused to endorse either candidate and said she would cast a blank vote. In that, she was followed by more than 2 million others, a total far higher than in previous elections.

News by AP

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

15 million of world's babies are born prematurely

beautiful babies photos
A mother carrying her unnamed twin baby, 11 days old, in a Care center
WASHINGTON (AP) -- About 15 million premature babies are born every year - more than 1 in 10 of the world's births and a bigger problem than previously believed, according to the first country-by-country estimates of this obstetric epidemic.

The startling toll: 1.1 million of these fragile newborns die as a result, and even those who survive can suffer lifelong disabilities.

Most of the world's preemies are born in Africa and Asia, says the report released Wednesday.

It's a problem for the U.S., too, where half a million babies are born too soon. That's about 1 in 8 U.S. births, a higher rate than in Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan - and even worse than rates in a number of less developed countries, too, the report found.

But the starkest difference between rich and poorer countries: Survival.

"Being born too soon is an unrecognized killer," said Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children, who co-authored the report with the March of Dimes, World Health Organization and a coalition of international health experts. "And it's unrecognized in the countries where you could have a massive effect in reducing these deaths."

Sophisticated and expensive intensive care saves the majority of preterm babies in the U.S. and other developed nations, even the tiniest, most premature ones. The risk of death from prematurity is at least 12 times higher for an African newborn than for a European baby, the report found.

Globally, prematurity is not only the leading killer of newborns but the second-leading cause of death in children under 5.

"These facts should be a call to action," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in an introduction to the report.

Three-quarters of the deaths could be prevented by spreading some simple, inexpensive treatments to the neediest countries, the report concludes. For example, providing $1 steroid shots during preterm labor hastens development of immature fetal lungs. They're standard in developed countries; wider use in low-income countries could save nearly 400,000 babies a year.

Even more lives could be saved by teaching "kangaroo care," in which moms carry their tiny babies nestled skin-to-skin on their bare chests for warmth when there are no incubators.

"To see babies who are 900 grams (about 2 pounds) survive without any technology, it's fantastic," says Lawn, who has watched kangaroo care save lives in countries like Malawi, with the highest preterm birth rate - 18.1 percent.

Also needed: Antibiotics to fight the infections that often kill newborns, and antiseptic cream to prevent umbilical cord infection.

Survival isn't the only hurdle. No one knows how many preemies suffer disabilities including cerebral palsy, blindness or learning disorders.

That's why preventing preterm births in the first place is the ultimate goal, one reason for comparing countries - to learn why some do better and some worse. Previously, the groups had estimated that 13 million babies were born prematurely each year, based on regional data.

About 12 percent of U.S. births are preterm, about the same as Wednesday's report estimates in Thailand, Turkey and Somalia. In contrast, just 5.9 percent of births in Japan and Sweden are premature.

Experts can't fully explain why the U.S. preemie rate is so much worse than similar high-income countries. But part of the reason must be poorer access to prenatal care for uninsured U.S. women, especially minority mothers-to-be, said March of Dimes epidemiologist Christopher Howson. African-American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to receive late or no prenatal care, and they have higher rates of preterm birth as well, he said.

More disturbing, the report ranks the U.S. with a worse preterm birth rate than 58 of the 65 countries that best track the problem, including much of Latin America. Add dozens of poor countries where the counts are less certain, and the report estimates that 127 other nations may have lower rates.

Whatever the precise numbers, "we have a shared problem among all countries and we need a shared solution," Howson said.

One key: Not just early prenatal care but more preconception care, he said. Given that in the U.S. alone, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, health providers should use any encounter with a woman of childbearing age to check for factors that could imperil a pregnancy.

"Ensure that mom goes into her pregnancy as healthy as possible," Howson said.

Scientists don't know what causes all preterm birth, and having one preemie greatly increases the risk for another. But among the risk factors:

-Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and smoking.

-Being underweight or overweight, and spacing pregnancies less than two years apart.

-Pregnancy before age 17 or over 40.

-Carrying twins or more.

-In wealthier countries, early elective inductions and C-sections.

"A healthy baby is worth the wait," Howson said, noting that being even a few weeks early can increase the risk of respiratory problems, jaundice, even death.

The WHO defines a preterm birth as before completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. Most preemies fall in the "late preterm" category, born between 32 and 37 weeks. Extreme preemies are born before 28 weeks. So-called "very preterm" babies fall in between.

Lawn's biggest frustration is how often later preemies die in low-income countries because even the health providers may not know simple steps that might save them - and the fatalism around those deaths.

"If you're in the States and have a preterm baby now, even at 25 weeks you've got a 50 percent chance of survival and people expect that. Whereas in Ghana, if a baby's born 2 months early, people kind of expect the baby to die," she said.

News by AP

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

U.S. and Europe: Bad news about jobs spooks markets

U.S. and Europe: Bad news about jobs
Trader Christopher Morie works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors are homing in on bad news about jobs in the U.S. and Europe.

Stocks are down at midday, erasing the hope generated the day before about a brisk May for the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48 points to 13,230 in midday trading Wednesday. The day before it closed at the highest point in four years.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell seven points to 1,398. The Nasdaq composite index was down four at 3,045.

An unemployment report underscored worries about Europe's debt crisis. The 17 countries that use the euro reported that unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in March, the highest since 1999.

News by AP

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Coke and Pepsi alter recipe to avoid cancer warning

coke and pepsi
Coke and Pepsi
Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing the recipes for their drinks to avoid being legally obliged to put a cancer warning label on the bottle.

The new recipe for caramel colouring in the drinks has less 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) - a chemical which California has added to its list of carcinogens.

The change to the recipe has already been introduced in California but will be rolled out across the US.

Coca-Cola says there is no health risk to justify the change.

'No risk'

Spokeswoman Diana Garza-Ciarlante told the Associated Press news agency they wanted to ensure their products "would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning".

The chemical has been linked to cancer in mice and rats, according to one study, but there is no evidence that it poses a health risk to humans, said the American Beverage Association, which represents the wider industry.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims a person would need to drink more than 1,000 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day to take in the same dose of the chemical that was given to the animals in the lab test.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for nearly 90% of the US fizzy drink market, according to one industry tracker, Beverage Digest.

The companies say changing their recipes across the whole of the US, not just in California, makes the drinks more efficient to manufacture.

In a statement Coca-Cola added that the manufacturing process across Europe would not change.

It said that apart from California "not one single regulatory agency around the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MEI as present in caramels as an issue".

News By BBC

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Militant secularisation threat to religion, says Warsi

Baroness Warsi
Baroness Warsi
Britain is under threat from a rising tide of "militant secularisation", a cabinet minister has warned.

Religion is being "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere", Conservative co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

The Muslim peer said Europe needed to become "more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity".

She will also highlight the issue in a speech at the Vatican on Wednesday.

"I will be arguing that to create a more just society, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds," she wrote in the Telegraph.

"In practice this means individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages."

Baroness Warsi, who is Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister, went on to write: "You cannot and should not extract these Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes."
'Totalitarian regimes'

She wrote that examples of a "militant secularisation" taking hold of society could be seen in a number of things - "when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won't fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere".

She also compared the intolerance of religion with totalitarian regimes, which she said were "denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities".

Her comments come days after the High Court ruled that a Devon town council had acted unlawfully by allowing prayers to be said at meetings.

And, as BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott reports, the Church of England could soon lose its traditional role as the provider of the chief chaplain to the Prison Service.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it is "considering arrangements" for appointing a new Chaplain-General - but the job might not go to an Anglican.

Our correspondent says the move may be seen by some Anglicans as the latest sign of the reduced influence of the "established" Church of England in public affairs.
'Outdated and divisive'

On Baroness Warsi's article and speech, BBC political correspondent Louise Stewart said it was not the first time a senior Conservative had called for a revival of traditional Christian values.

"Last December, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK was a Christian country and 'should not be afraid to say so'," she said.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) described Baroness Warsi's comments as "outdated, unwarranted and divisive".

"In an increasingly non-religious and, at the same time, diverse society, we need policies that will emphasise what we have in common as citizens rather than what divides us," sd BHA chief executive Andrew Copson.

Baroness Warsi's two-day delegation of seven British ministers to the Holy See will include an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who visited the UK in 2010.

This visit marks the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of full diplomatic ties between Britain and the Vatican.

Meanwhile, new research suggests Britons who declare themselves Christian display low levels of belief and practice.

Almost three quarters of the 1,136 people polled by Ipsos Mori agreed that religion should not influence public policy, and 92% agreed the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of their personal beliefs.

It also found that 61% of Christians agreed homosexuals should have the same legal rights in all aspects of their lives as heterosexuals.

And a further 62% were in favour of a woman's right to have an abortion within the legal time limit.

The survey was conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK), which describes itself as promoting "scientific education, rationalism and humanism".

News by BBC

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pentagon budget cuts will reshape U.S. military

US Army
The Pentagon
(Reuters) - The Pentagon unveiled a 2013 budget plan that would cut $487 billion in spending over the next decade by eliminating nearly 100,000 ground troops, mothballing ships and trimming air squadrons in a bid to create a smaller, agile force with a new strategic focus.

The funding request, which includes painful cuts that will be felt across the country, comes at a historic turning point for the military as it winds down 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

The budget plan, sharply criticized by some lawmakers, sets the stage for a new struggle between President Barack Obama's administration and Congress over how much the Pentagon should spend on national security as the country tries to curb its trillion-dollar budget deficits.

"Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact all 50 states and many districts, congressional districts across America," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

"This will be a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or action."

Panetta, previewing a budget to be made public February 13, said he would ask for a $525 billion base budget for the 2013 fiscal year, the first time since before the September 11, 2001, attacks that the Pentagon has asked for less than the previous year. That compares with $531 billion approved this year.

Panetta said he would seek $88.4 billion to support overseas combat operations, primarily in Afghanistan, down from $115 billion in 2012 largely due to the end of the war in Iraq and the withdrawal of U.S. forces there at the end of last year.

Congress ultimately controls the Pentagon's purse strings and regularly intervenes to change the size and detail of military spending as it sees fit. The Defense Department's budget accounts for about 20 percent of total federal spending.

Republican lawmakers who oversee military affairs on Capitol Hill sharply criticized the plan.

Senator John McCain said it "ignored the lessons of history" by imposing massive cuts on the military, and Representative Buck McKeon said it reflected "Obama's vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform."


The 2013 budget is Panetta's first as defense secretary and is the first to take into account the Budget Control Act passed by Congress in August that requires the Pentagon to cut $487 billion in projected spending over the next decade.

The budget plan does not take into account an additional $600 billion in defense cuts that could be required after Congress failed to pass a compromise agreement to cut government spending by $1.2 trillion. The Pentagon could face cuts of another $50 billion a year, starting in 2013, unless Congress changes the law.

Panetta said he hoped once lawmakers understood the sacrifice involved in reducing the defense budget by almost a half a trillion dollars, they would make sure to avoid another $500 billion in additional cuts that would "inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations."

The budget begins to flesh out a new military strategy announced by the Pentagon earlier this month that calls for a shift in focus from the ground wars of the past decade towards efforts to preserve stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

"To ensure an agile and ready force, we made a conscious choice not to maintain more force structure than we could afford to properly train and equip," Panetta said.

The budget plan would provide new challenges for the Pentagon's top suppliers, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The Arca index of defense stocks closed Thursday down 0.7 percent.

The plan retains but slows the purchase of weapons like Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon's largest procurement program, as well as submarines, amphibious assault ships and other vessels. It would retain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.

The Pentagon would boost its emphasis on special operations forces like those who carried out the raid in Pakistan that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year and rescued two aid workers this week from kidnappers in Somalia.

It would also increase its emphasis on cyber operations, expand its work on drone aircraft, go ahead with a long-range bomber and proceed with other weapons that would allow it to project power from a greater distance.

Those capabilities are needed as countries like Iran and China develop arms that could threaten U.S. aircraft carriers in international waters near their shores.

General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned against "parsing through each cut, each change, to look for a winner or loser," saying the plan should be judged for how it adapts the military to a changing security environment.

While the cuts announced on Thursday would affect all major defense contractors, consultant Loren Thompson said shipbuilders would be hit particularly hard because of the plan to cut 16 vessels from the total planned for the next five years.

The plans could affect work flow at Huntington Ingalls' shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Newport News, Virginia.

The size of the active-duty Army would be trimmed to 490,000 over five years from its wartime peak of 570,000 in 2010 and the size of the Marine Corps would fall to 182,000 from its high of about 202,000.

Military pay increases would begin to slow after two more years of growth, and fees would be increased on healthcare benefits for military retirees, those who served more than 20 years, both above and below the age of 65.

In addition, the Pentagon would:

- Delay development of a new ballistic missile submarine by two years.

- Eliminate six of the Air Force's tactical-air fighter squadrons and retire or divest 130 aircraft used for moving troops and equipment.

- Retire seven Navy cruisers and two smaller amphibious ships early, postpone the purchase of a big-deck amphibious ship by one year and postpone the planned purchase of a number of other vessels for several years.

- Eliminate two Army heavy brigades stationed in Europe and compensate by rotating U.S. based units into the region for training and exercises.

- Study the possibility of further reducing the size of U.S. nuclear arsenal.

- Begin a new round of talks on closing bases made unnecessary by the smaller force.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

U.S. to unveil "more realistic" plan for military

Barack Obama, US President
(Reuters) - The Obama administration will unveil a "more realistic" vision for the military on Thursday, with plans to cut tens of thousands of ground troops and invest more in air and sea power at a time of fiscal restraint, officials familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.

The strategic review of U.S. security interests will also emphasize an American presence in Asia, with less attention overall to Europe, Africa and Latin America alongside slower growth in the Pentagon's budget, the officials said.

Though specific budget cut and troop reduction figures are not set to be announced on Thursday, officials confirmed to Reuters they would amount to a 10-15 percent decline in Army and Marine Corps numbers over the next decade, translating to tens of thousands of troops.

The most profound shift in the strategic review is an acceptance that the United States, even with the world's largest military budget, cannot afford to maintain the ground troops to fight more than one major war at once. That is a move away from the "win-win" strategy that has dominated Pentagon funding decisions for decades.

The move to a "win-spoil" plan, allowing U.S. forces to fight one campaign and stop or block another conflict, includes a recognition that the White House would need to ramp up public support for further engagement and draw more heavily on reserve and national guard troops when required.

"As Libya showed, you don't necessarily have to have boots on the ground all the time," an official said, explaining the White House view.

"We are refining our strategy to something that is more realistic," the official added.

President Barack Obama will help launch the U.S. review at the Pentagon on Thursday, and is expected to emphasize that the size of the U.S. military budget has been growing and will continue to grow, but at a slower pace.

Obama has moved to curtail U.S. ground commitments overseas, ending the war in Iraq, drawing down troops in Afghanistan and ruling out anything but air power and intelligence support for rebels who overthrew Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

The number of U.S. military personnel formally assigned to bases in Europe - including many now deployed in Afghanistan - is also set to decline sharply, administration sources said, while stressing that the final numbers have not been set.


"When some army brigades start coming out of Afghanistan, they will basically disappear," one official said.

Many of the key U.S. military partners in the NATO alliance are also facing tough defense budget cuts as a result of fiscal strains gripping the European Union.

The president may face criticism from defense hawks in Congress, many of them opposition Republicans, who question his commitment to U.S. military strength.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, are set to hold a news conference to flesh out the contents of the review after Obama's remarks, which are also expected to stress the need to rein in spending at a time when U.S. budgets are tight.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the defense cuts stemming from an August debt ceiling deal - worth about $489 billion over 10 years - need to be enacted carefully.

"The president made clear to his team that we need to take a hard look at all of our defense spending to ensure that spending cuts are surgical and that our top priorities are met," Carney told reporters this week.

The military could be forced to cut another $600 billion in defense spending over 10 years unless Congress takes action to stop a second round of cuts mandated in the August accord.

Panetta spent much of Wednesday afternoon briefing key congressional leaders about the strategic review. Representative Adam Smith, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said after speaking to Panetta that the review was an attempt to evaluate U.S. strategic priorities for the future rather than identify specific budget reductions.

Maintaining a significant presence in the Middle East and Asia, especially to counter Iran and North Korea, was a leading priority in the review, Smith said. So was making sure that military personnel are sufficiently cared for to guarantee the effectiveness of the all-volunteer force. Reductions in the size of U.S. forces in Europe and elsewhere are a real possibility, he said.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby said with the military winding down a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is appropriate to re-evaluate the role of U.S. forces abroad.

"From an operational perspective it's ... an opportune time to take a look at what the U.S. military is doing and what it should be doing or should be preparing itself to do over the next 10 to 15 years," he said on Wednesday.

"So, yes, the budget cuts are certainly a driver here, but so quite frankly are current events," Kirby said.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Wedding ring 'found on carrot' after 16 years

Wedding Ring found at the top of Carrot
A Swedish woman has discovered her wedding ring on a carrot growing in her garden, 16 years after she lost it, says a newspaper.

Lena Paahlsson had long ago lost hope of finding the ring, which she designed herself, reports Dagens Nyheter.

The white-gold band, set with seven small diamonds, went missing in her kitchen in 1995, she told the paper.

Although the ring no longer fits, she hopes to have it enlarged so she can wear it again.

Mrs Paahlsson and her family live on a farm near Mora in central Sweden.

She took the ring off to do some Christmas baking with her daughters, but it disappeared from the work surface where it had been left, she explained to Dagens Nyheter.

The family searched everywhere and years later took up the tiling on the floor during renovations, in the hope of finding the ring.

It was not until 16 years later when Mrs Paahlsson was pulling up carrots in her garden that she noticed one with the gold band fastened tightly around it.

"The carrot was sprouting in the middle of the ring. It is quite incredible," her husband Ola said to the newspaper.

The couple believe the ring fell into a sink back in 1995 and was lost in vegetable peelings that were turned into compost or fed to their sheep.

"I had given up hope," Mrs Paahlsson told Dagens Nyheter, adding that she wanted to have the ring adjusted to fit her.

"Now that I have found the ring again I want to be able to use it," she said.

News by BBC

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HTC Android Phones Are Being Banned from the US Next Year

Apple VS HTC
Apple just won a big court victory against HTC that could force HTC to stop selling its Android phones in the United States. The United States International Trade Commission ruled that HTC was infringing on an Apple patent that effects HTC Android devices running Android 1.6 to 2.2.

The devices that may be banned from being sold in the U.S. is basically a who's who list of Android phones: Droid Incredible, Evo 4G, T-Mobile G2, Nexus One and a bunch of older Android devices. The patent that the courts ruled HTC was infringing on (#5,946,647) is potentially a big one. According to Fortune, who took a deep look at the specific patent, it works like this:

When an iPhone receives a message that contains a phone number or an address — e-mail, Web or street — those bits of data are automatically highlighted, underlined and turned into clickable links.

Click on the phone number, and the iPhone asks if you want to dial it. Click on the Web address, and it opens in Safari. Click on the street address, and Maps will display it.

That's huge, not only because it's an important feature in smartphones but because it could mean Apple could go on to attack other Android phone makers because it's the OS that's infringing the patent, not the hardware. However, if HTC Android phones removed that feature (unlikely) or implement it in a different way (which we expect HTC to do), they could keep on selling. And that's pretty much what HTC expects to do, HTC, which has responded to this decision with rainbow colored unicorn tears, reached out to us with this statement:

This decision is a win for HTC and we are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge's determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.

Yes, the patent in question is a fixable problem but I'd hardly categorize the court's decision as a win for HTC. If HTC doesn't fix this issue however, the ban on HTC Android phones in the US is set to take into effect on April 19, 2012. That's not winning.

There are still some real moves left for HTC to make to avoid the import ban (a Presidential veto is an option) but this is sure setting up for a major stateside war (thermonuclear, even) between Apple and Android phone makers much like with what's happening with Apple and Samsung Tablets in Europe and Australia.

News by Gizmodo

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grenade attack in Belgium kills 4 and injures 75 at Liege Christmas market

grenade attack in Belgium
Grenade attack in Liege
A man armed with grenades and an assault rifle attacked shoppers in the Belgian city Liege today, leaving four people dead and wounding 75 others.

The attack ignited a stampede, as hundreds fled the explosions and bullets in the busy Place Saint-Lambert.

Interior Ministry official Peter Mertens said the attack did not involve terrorism.

The attacker was identified as Norodine Amrani, 33, a Liege resident who had served jail sentences for offences involving guns, drugs and sex abuse.

He was among the dead, but it was unclear if he committed suicide or died by accident. He was not killed by police.

The dead included two teenage boys, aged 15 and 17, and a 75-year-old woman. A two-year-old girl was reported to be fighting for her life.

Amrani had been summoned for police questioning today but the reason for the questioning was not clear. He still had a number of grenades with him when he died.

He left his home in Liege with a backpack, armed with hand grenades, a revolver and an assault rifle.

He walked alone to the central square, then got on to a platform that gave him a view of the square below, with a huge Christmas tree and crowded with shoppers.

From there, Amrani lobbed three hand grenades towards a bus shelter, which serves 1,800 buses a day, then opened fire on the crowd. The explosions sent glass from the bus shelter across a wide area.

Witness Dimitri Degryse said: "I heard a loud boom. I thought it was something on my car that was broken or something. Then a few seconds after, a second boom, and I saw all the glass breaking, I saw people running, screaming."

As soon as the shooting began, hundreds of people fled the square, as well as a Christmas market in an adjacent square, rampaging through old city streets looking for cover.

Video from the scene showed people, including a large group of children, fleeing the city centre, some still carrying shopping bags.

As police hunted for possible accomplices, residents were ordered to stay in their homes or seek shelter in shops or public buildings.

A medical post was set up in the nearby courtyard of the Prince Bishops courthouse. Dozens of emergency vehicles took victims away for treatment.

Police closed off the area but found no accomplices and calm returned after a few hours.

The Place Saint-Lambert and the nearby Place du Marche host Liege's annual Christmas market, which consists of 200 tiny shops and attracts some 1.5 million visitors a year.

By dusk, with the Christmas lights gleaming again, King Albert II and Queen Paola came to pay their respects, as did prime minister Elio Di Rupo.

Place Saint-Lambert is a busy crossroads. Every day 1,800 buses serve the square, which leads to central shopping streets.

The Place Saint-Lambert and the nearby Place du Marche host the Liege's annual Christmas market which consists of 200 retail cabins and attracts some 1.5 million visitors a year.

News by Mirror