Brussels attack: Belgium hunts for gunman suspected of killing two Swedes

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A gunman suspected of killing two Swedish nationals in a terrorist attack in Brussels remains at large Tuesday as Belgian authorities stepped up security to protect a large contingent of visiting soccer fans.

The deadly shooting Monday came as Belgium hosted Sweden in a Euro 2024 qualifier soccer game at the King Baudouin Stadium 3 miles (5 kilometers) from downtown Brussels, forcing the match to be abandoned at half-time.

In a video posted on social media, a man identifying himself as the gunman claimed “to be inspired by the Islamic State,” a spokesperson for Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office said, adding “the Swedish nationality of the victims was mentioned as a probable motivation for the act.”

“At this stage, there are no indications of a potential link with the Israeli-Palestinian situation. On the basis of both the facts and the claim, security measures have been taken as a matter of urgency to protect Swedish fans as much as possible,” spokesperson Eric Van Duyse said during a press conference.

The deadly shooting follows a spate of Quran-burning protests in Sweden and Denmark that has caused angry demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries, heightened security fears and left both Scandinavian nations questioning whether they need to review their liberal laws on freedom of speech.

Belgian authorities condemned the attack.

“Horrified by the terrorist attack that claimed two victims in the heart of Brussels,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “All necessary means must be mobilized to combat radicalism. Our thoughts go out to the victims, their families, and our police forces.”

Following the attack, the terror threat level for Brussels was raised to 4, the highest level, while the French Interior Ministry told CNN it has “strengthened” checks at the Franco-Belgian border.

Police were on the streets of Brussels to ensure safety, the city’s mayor Philippe Close posted on X.

“Following the shooting in Brussels, police services are mobilizing to guarantee safety in and around our capital, in collaboration with the Minister of the Interior,” Close said. “I am at the crisis center… to ensure coordination.”

In a post on X, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo offered “deepest condolences to the relatives of this cowardly attack.”

“I am closely following the situation, together with the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs from [the Belgian Crisis Center]. We are monitoring the situation and ask the people of Brussels to be vigilant,” he said.

The country’s Crisis Center also posted to X asking people not to share images or videos of the incident “out of respect” for the victims.


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