DENDERMONDE, Belgium (AP) - A man went on a rampage at a Belgian
day care center Friday, stabbing two young children and a female worker to death and slashing 12 others all over their bodies, officials said.
Sobbing parents rushed to the scene and to nearby hospitals. Shocked rescue workers spoke of finding crying, bleeding toddlers
scattered inside the center. Medical workers at six hospitals sprung into action, performing emergency operations to save the 10 children and two adults badly wounded in the attack.
The shocking assault caused panic and outrage in the town 20 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Brussels, where the day care center sits on a residential street.
"An act of great brutality has happened here against our weakest citizens," said mayor Buyse Piet. "The whole city is united in support for the parents who are in deep grief."
Prosecutor Christian Du Four said the attacker rode his bike up to the Fabeltjesland center about 10 a.m., entered and immediately began slashing a knife around. The dead included two children - ranging in age up to 3 - and a woman working in the center.
In the mayhem that ensued, the attacker simply walked out and got back on his bicycle before being arrested in a nearby supermarket shortly afterward, Du Four said.
Dr. Ignace Demeyer, head of emergency services at the Our Lady Hospital in nearby Aalst, said the 10 wounded children and two care
workers underwent surgery at six hospitals. All were in stable condition Friday night.
"This was a particularly violent attack. All the kids had multiple stab wounds on their legs, arms and all over their bodies," he told a news conference.
He said 21 children were at the center during the attack, and nine were unharmed.
Police had to show distraught parents digital photographs of those taken to the hospital, asking them to identify their children.
Du Four did not immediately identify the suspect, who was injured as police detained him and briefly taken to a hospital. Justice Minister Stefaan De Clercq said later the man was uncooperative under questioning. He did not elaborate.
Residents told The Associated Press the suspect was a local man with a history of mental illness.
Officials opened up a nearby community center to provide psychological counseling to family members and witnesses, and police cordoned off the area.
"People are totally in shock," said Leene Du Bois, a spokeswoman for the regional government of Flanders. "Nobody would have imagined anyone could do so much harm. There is much grief."
She said the perpetrator had no connection to the day care center.
Crown Prince Philippe and his wife, Princess Mathilde, plan to meet with the parents of the children.
Veerle Heeren, social welfare minister for the regional Flemish government, said she would be investigating security measures at
"(It's) something you hear about from America, not here," said bake shop owner Bie Hoornaert.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)