“There are no words to describe the tragedy” – sentiments expressed by Belgium leaders as King Albert met with government officials following the shootings.
The incident is the first major challenge to face the country’s new Prime Minister Elio di Rupo as he attempted to restore calm to a traumatised public.
“This is an isolated act, not a terrorist act, or and attack. The shock that the population feels is understandable and we share it,” reassured di Rupo.
Neighbours of the lone gunman described him as a quiet but helpful individual. However, there was an angry reaction when it became known that Nordine Amrani had served jail time on drugs and arms offences and had been released early.