A lone gunman opened fire on a square packed with children and Christmas shoppers in the eastern Belgian city of Liege on Tuesday, killing three people before turning the gun on himself.

More than 60 people were also wounded in the lunch-hour attack, said an official, adding the gunman was among the two dead.

The country's federal crisis centre said it was neither a terrorist incident nor linked to a pending criminal trial.

“It was a lone gunman,” the centre's Benoit Ramacker told AFP. “It's very difficult to determine the reasons for the attack, but we're investigating all avenues.”

Belgium's Home Affairs Minister Joelle Milquet broke off European Union talks and was headed for Liege after the attack, as was newly-named Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

The attack sent terrified residents running for their lives, and hours later groups of people sat weeping on sidewalks across the windy city amid the screech of ambulance sirens and the roar of helicopters hovering overhead. — AFP

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