Two infants and an adult have been killed and 10 other people wounded in a knife attack at a creche in north-western Belgium.
A man reportedly tricked his way into the nursery in Dendermonde where he ran amok inside before escaping. He was later captured at a local supermarket.
The suspect apparently had painted his face black and white.
Parents have begun the harrowing task of identifying children stabbed during the attack at local hospitals.
Three children are reported to be in a serious condition in hospital.
One of those who died is believed to be a nursery employee and Dendermonde's deputy mayor, Theo Janssens, said several adults had been injured as they tried to put themselves between the attacker and the children.
"The guy just went crazy," Mr Janssens said. "There was blood everywhere, it was unbelievable, real carnage."
The creche has been evacuated and local authorities have put a disaster plan in place.
Town 'in shock'
Nursery staff told journalists that the attacker, believed to be in his thirties, was not known to them.
Officials said he had rung the doorbell at the Fabeltjesland (English: Storyland) nursery at 1000 local time (0900 GMT) and told staff he needed some information.
When they opened the door, he ran in and began attacking three of the infants.
"He quickly pulled out a knife and started using it on the children," said local prosecutor Christian Du Four.
"He then went up to another floor and started doing the same thing again."
The prosecutor said the man's face had been smeared with a white colouring but his eyes had been blackened.
He escaped from the scene by bicycle but was arrested at a supermarket
Residents told the BBC that the town was stunned.
Damien Vernon, a 43-year-old from Ireland who has lived in Dendermonde for five years, said: "It's just a sad day here, we're a small town and the crime figures are low here, we're just in shock."
The creche looks after 18 children under the age of three.
Police have been showing parents digital photographs of the youngsters taken to hospital, asking them to identify their children.
Interior Minister Guido De Padt told a press conference he was "horrified by the events".
"Our thoughts go out to the families and staff of the creche," he said. "Many parents are in a state of shock."
The children and staff from the nursery who escaped without injury are now receiving counselling.
Flemish TV station VTM had initially reported three children and two adults had died but the interior ministry later gave the lower casualty figures.
UPDATE: Sources report a third child has died as the result of the injuries sustained in the attack, bring the total number of fatalities to 4 of which 3 are children
Tags: Knife attack, daycare center, Belgium, Dendermonde, creche,
Location: Dendermonde, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium (load item map)
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