DUSAHNBE, April 17, Asia-Plus – A US shooting rampage at the Virginia Tech University has left 33 people, including a suspected gunman, dead.

There were two incidents two hours apart, at a student dorm where two were killed and at an engineering building where 30 and the gunman died.

Officers said they were working to link the attacks and had a preliminary ID of the gunman but would not release it.

After the deadliest shooting rampage in US history, President George W Bush said the US was "shocked and saddened".  "Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community," he said.

The state university in the town of Blacksburg is home to 26,000 students.

Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum said that emergency services had received a call at 0715 alerting them to a shooting at the dormitory - West Ambler Johnston Hall.  He said that two hours later there was a second report of shooting, this time at the engineering building, Norris Hall.

Asked why the campus was not closed after the first shooting, Mr. Flinchum said that, at that stage, it was thought to be an isolated incident.

Police believed the first shooting may have been a "domestic incident" and that the gunman had left the campus.

Eyewitnesses said some students jumped from classroom windows to escape the gunfire, which triggered panic on campus.  Some of those locked down inside the university buildings were using the internet to try to glean information about what was happening and many e-mailed the BBC News website.

Mr. Flinchum said it was unclear if the dead gunman was a student.  He could not confirm that the man was involved in the first attack.

The deadliest mass US shooting prior to the Virginia attack was in Texas in 1991 when George Hennard killed 23 people and himself in a cafeteria.

The US also has a history of deadly school shootings.

In 1966, the day after killing his wife and mother, gunman Charles Whitman opened fire from a tower on the campus of the University of Texas killing 14 people and injuring 31 others.

In 1999 two teenagers at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.